COMPAQ MAY CONSOLIDATE ACCOUNT: AMMIRATI, BATES WOULD COMPETE FOR $200 MIL IN GLOBAL AD SPENDING

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Compaq Computer Corp. said it will decide in 30 to 60 days whether to consolidate its estimated $200 million global account at one agency.

Kathleen Harrington, director of advertising, said Compaq will consider only two agencies: U.S. shop Ammirati Puris Lintas, New York, and European agency Bates Europe, London.

"We have no plans to do an outside review. That's definite," Ms. Harrington said.

WANTING GLOBAL MESSAGE

Compaq would go to a single agency largely so it could communicate the same message to major business customers globally, she said. Ms. Harrington said Compaq has brought on two consultants to assist in the evaluation. The consultants were said to be Bill Weilbacher of Dennis, Mass., and Morgan Anderson & Co., New York.

Mr. Weilbacher denied he was working with Compaq. Morgan Anderson couldn't be reached.

Ammirati and Bates are abuzz with talk about the global account.

"There are serious discussions about consolidating the account," said an executive at one agency.

Despite Ms. Harrington's assurances, some insiders at the incumbent agencies believe Compaq could go into a general review if Compaq executives can't agree on which agency to choose.

Ms. Harrington has a close relationship with Ammirati. But Bates still has strong ties to many European managers. Ms. Harrington said: "We've been very pleased with both agencies' capabilities."

TRYOUT FOR AMMIRATI

Ammirati already is getting a tryout with a proposed campaign in Europe themed "Change is good." But late last week, Compaq halted focus group tests in London after seeing poor initial results, said individuals familiar with the campaign.

The world's largest PC marketer long has left advertising up to its regions. But there are signs of new global thinking-amid confusion about where marketing and advertising are headed.

Last month, Compaq brought in ex-IBM Corp. executive David Middleton as VP-marketing and communications, making him Compaq's first global marketing chief. Mr. Middleton moved Ms. Harrington from director of advertising-North America to the same post worldwide.

Meanwhile, Compaq is working with executive search company Egon Zehnder International to recruit a head of global marketing communications.

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