3Com Corp. is talking to Foote, Cone & Belding in what close observers bet signals a plan to consolidate the $60 million to $70 million account.
Jerry Johnston, 3Com's recently named VP-corporate marketing, was meeting last week with executives from FCB, including Dave Clauson, senior VP-group management supervisor in the San Francisco office and the former head of now-defunct FCB Technology.
3Com confirmed discussions with FCB but would not say what the tech company was considering with the agency. A 3Com spokeswoman simply said: "We are talking to them."
NEW ROLE FOR CLAUSON?
However, 3Com is known to be mulling the role of Mr. Clauson as global account director on 3Com, which observers say strongly suggests 3Com will consolidate its scattered accounts at the agency without a review.
"It looks like a slam-dunk," said one person familiar with 3Com.
3Com, a computer networking products and modem marketer, now is split among multiple shops. Poppe Tyson, Mountain View, Calif., has had 3Com's corporate and product account since September 1996.
Leap Partnership, Chicago, since March 1996 has done creative for 3Com's Personal Communications Division, formerly U.S. Robotics, the modem powerhouse bought earlier this year. Focus Media, Santa Monica, Calif., won the division's media account in May 1996.
Londy/Lindberg, based in the San Francisco area, works on 3Com's hot-selling Pilot electronic organizer, while Martha Felt Group, Salt Lake City, handles the Megahertz modem division.
Mr. Johnston, a former executive with PaineWebber in New York and J. Walter Thompson USA in Chicago, joined U.S. Robotics in August 1996 with ambitions to focus and build the brand. But after 3Com bought the company earlier this year, Mr. Johnston jumped over with a new mission to build the 3Com brand.
3Com has moved quickly to tie its brand to products and ads of U.S. Robotics' former divisions. U.S. Robotics' Pilot now carries a 3Com label; U.S. Robotics' current modem campaign includes the 3Com logo.
In launching that modem campaign, Neil Clemmons, VP-marketing of 3Com's Personal Communications Division, said 3Com "looks to become a household name."
Sharon Hamilton, manager of marketing communications for that division, this month is jumping to a post at rival modem technology supplier Rockwell International Corp., a shift one observer offered as another clue that 3Com intends to rein in U.S. Robotics' scattershot communications at one agency.
Asked last week whether 3Com would consolidate at FCB, Mr. Clemmons said only that Leap "continues to turn out some great work for us" and referred broader questions about 3Com to Mr. Johnston.
Mr. Johnston hadn't responded to calls and e-mail at deadline. Larry Loper, director of marketing communications and branding, referred a call to the spokeswoman who confirmed talks. FCB declined to comment.
Copyright October 1997, Crain Communications Inc.