Erin Mulligan Nelson Leaves Dell for Bazaarvoice

Move Comes a Week After PC Giant Launches Creative Review

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NEW YORK (AdAge.com) -- Not only will Dell have a new creative shop running its consumer-, small-, medium- and public-business accounts this winter, but the PC giant will also have a new top marketer -- again.

Erin Mulligan Nelson
Erin Mulligan Nelson
Today Dell will announce that Chief Marketing Officer Erin Mulligan Nelson will be leaving the company to join another Austin, Texas-based company, Bazaarvoice, a 5-year-old firm that assists marketers in capturing, displaying, sharing, and analyzing customer conversations online.

Ms. Nelson, the second CMO in Dell's history, declined to comment for this article. The CMO role at Dell tends to bring with it a very short shelf life. Mark Jarvis, Ms. Nelson's predecessor, was named the company's first CMO back in April of 2007 and vacated the post in December 2008.

Ms. Nelson, who has only been VP-CMO of Dell for 20 months, played a major role in helping the company launch its first global campaign called, "Take Your Own Path," a small- and midsize-business effort. Ms. Nelson replaces Sam Decker, Bazaarvoice's former CMO.

Ad Age reported last week that Dell was launching a creative review just three years after entering into a after entering into a multibillion-dollar marketing contract with WPP.

People familiar with the pitch said the list of agencies that have been approached to participate include agencies from holding companies including Interpublic Group of Cos. and Omnicom Group, as well as independent agencies and specialist shops. Among them, is indie agency Mother, who has had a spot on Dell's roster for years and now has an opportunity to grow the relationship. One person familiar with situation said the business currently up for review is equal to between 5%-15% of Dell's overall marketing account, which at the upper end, could be as much as a total of $30 million in revenue to the winning agency or agencies.

WPP may not totally be left out in the cold as a result of this pitch. The holding company's agencies manage a variety of pieces of business, such as media duties at MediaCom and PR at Axicom, but it is possible that more assignments will go into review in the coming months. Dell's pact with WPP was reached in late December 2007, but it's actual contract with WPP doesn't expire until March 2011.

Jennifer Statham, leader of Dell's agency relations practice, has been closely involved in the pitch.

Brett Hurt, CEO of Bazaarvoice, said Ms. Nelson was a good fit for the company because of her experience in marketing and strategy development. "She also knows how to grow a company into a very large company," Mr. Hurt told Ad Age. "From an experience standpoint, she has more marketing experience than anyone here or any of the people we work with at our clients. She will help us understand how to scale the company from a global marketing perspective."

Mr. Hurt said Ms. Nelson will be working on the company's branding strategy, overall product marketing strategy and business development. "She has worldwide experience and we need to continue to expand globally," Mr. Hurt said. And he hinted that Ms. Nelson wouldn't be the last high-profile hire Bazaarvoice makes. "As we continue to grow globally, we will continue to hire more-experienced people," he said.

Privately-funded Bazaarvoice has 600 employees and works more than 950 marketers including Best Buy, Samsung, Dell, Home Depot, Nike, Macy's and P&G. It serves more than 7 billion impressions a month and has served 140 billion to date.

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Contributing: Rupal Parekh

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