HIGH TECH'S YEAREND GAME BEGINS

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The computer industry's summer reviews are in, and the fall play begins today.

Digital Equipment Corp. hired DDB Needham Worldwide and Microsoft Corp. shifted to Anderson & Lembke in two high-stakes reviews, while Intel Corp. today begins the first campaign in what likely will be a season of record spending for computer marketers.

Digital, the nation's No. 3 computer marketer, selected DDB Needham over Lowe & Partners/SMS, both New York, as the first "lead strategic/creative partner" on its estimated $90 million worldwide account.

Digital expects to name DDB Needham its global agency of record for media planning and buying, now handled by agencies around the world, said Charlie Holleran, VP-communications. The company will look "real hard" at awarding DDB Needham its entire creative account, he said. There will be at least one exception: The U.S. personal computer account stays at Young & Rubicam.

The fate of Digital's other 50-odd agencies is in question. "We have to go one by one and just see," Mr. Holleran said.

The lead corporate agencies are Arnold Fortuna Lawner & Cabot, Boston; Ciociola & Co., New York; Holland Mark Martin, Burlington, Mass.; Ketchum Advertising, Pittsburgh; and Publicis Etoiles, Paris.

If Digital consolidates at DDB Needham, it will be following the model of IBM Corp., which awarded Ogilvy & Mather Worldwide, New York, its $500 million global account and fired some 50 agencies in May. Digital expects DDB Needham's first work to break by early November.

There will be no honeymoon. The $13.6 billion company is struggling, and questions persist about the future of Digital and President-CEO Robert Palmer, who picked DDB Needham.

As expected, Digital named Maritz, Fenton, Mo., and the Ryan Partnership, Westport, Conn., as lead agencies for other marketing communications like direct marketing and sales promotion, previously handled by a variety of shops.

Microsoft, the world's largest PC software marketer, hired Anderson & Lembke, San Francisco, to do U.S. product ads in business and computer publications. O&M gave up that account to take IBM.

The company in June hired Wieden & Kennedy, Portland, Ore., as its first U.S. product mass-media shop and worldwide branding agency charged with making Microsoft into a household name.

Anderson will handle the lion's share of Microsoft's existing product assignment, estimated at $45 million, with Wieden handling a small portion. But new spending on Wieden's mass-media and branding work could approach that $45 million level.

Greg Perlot, Microsoft director of advertising, cited the agencies' "complementary competencies": Wieden is a hot creative shop known for building consumer brands like Nike. Anderson is a creatively driven business-to-business technology agency once owned by Chiat/Day, Venice, Calif. Wieden will take the creative lead on the "look and feel" of advertising, Mr. Perlot said. Both agencies are expected to have campaigns ready this fall.

Anderson had to give up the estimated $15 million account of Sun Microsystems, a workstation and software marketer. Sun is now reviewing.

The PC industry is gearing up for what should be a record yearend ad blitz. Intel, the leading chip supplier, starts today with a $40 million U.S. ad and in-store effort to promote its flagship Pentium.

Intel is putting all its media dollars behind Pentium, an attempt to get buyers to shift from 486 chips that now dominate the market. Intel has to hustle: Pentium's successor comes out next year. Dahlin Smith White, Salt Lake City, created the campaign.

Besides TV and print, the media assault includes outdoor boards and Intel's first major radio campaign. Broadcast spots feature a new signature ID that adds sound and motion to the "Intel inside" logo. The marketer also is letting software marketers put a special Pentium logo on packages, another way of extending the brand.

Intel said it expects to be the PC category's top ad spender in the fourth quarter, and will spend another $40 million in Europe.

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