Einson Freeman Promotional Campaigns, Paramus, N.J., won the promotion account for IBM's Personal Systems Group following a three-month review of more than a dozen agencies.
The winner is a new entity formed by two WPP Group promotion units-Einson Freeman in the U.S. and Promotional Campaigns Worldwide in the U.K.-to work on global promotions for IBM and, the agency hopes, other marketers.
Other finalists were Alcone Sims O'Brien, Irvine, Calif.; Clarion Marketing & Communications, Greenwich, Conn.; and Marketing Corp. of America, Westport, Conn.
The IBM division formerly worked on a project basis with various agencies.
COULD BE A FIRST
"This marks the first time in history that a global brand has ever awarded its promotion marketing business to a single agency worldwide, as far as we know," said Jeffrey McElnea, Einson Freeman president-CEO and head of the new unit.
The shop's work will include promotions, sponsorship, point-of-purchase materials and direct response for IBM's business and consumer PC divisions.
A spokeswoman said IBM consolidated primarily because it's stepping up retail chain and specialty dealer promotions, including POP and trade promotion.
"We wanted to have an integrated, do-it-once kind of approach for consistency and equity, and ultimately at lower costs in all markets," she said.
IBM used similar logic two years ago in consolidating its then $500 million global ad account at WPP-owned Ogilvy & Mather Worldwide, New York. But the spokeswoman stressed the division's move wasn't connected to a broader corporate initiative, and it's unlikely IBM will consolidate all such promotion.
Still, Mr. McElnea said he hopes the IBM division's decision to centralize global PC promotion strategies will increase the profile of promotion. "It's amazing to think that other world brands have not been able to forge enough internal consensus to raise sales promotion high enough on the strategic scale to consider doing this as well," he said.