Madison vs. Vine: CAA, Omnicom square off in HP pitch

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Hewlett-Packard Co. is conducting an entertainment-marketing review that pits two contenders in what could be billed as a Madison vs. Vine showdown.

HP has narrowed its search to the New York-based marketing communications company Omnicom Group and the Beverly Hills talent shop Creative Artists Agency, according to executives close to the review. A decision is expected soon.

Select Resources International President-CEO Catherine Bension is handling the review. She referred calls to HP, which declined to comment.

Omnicom is said to be marshaling various entertainment-marketing resources that have been assembled under its Diversified Agency Services arm, including event-marketing specialist GMR Marketing and Hollywood shops Aaron Walton Entertainment and Davie-Brown Entertainment. Omnicom's Goodby, Silverstein & Partners, San Francisco, and Publicis Groupe Worldwide, London and San Francisco, share HP's $400 million account. Goodby handles global brand advertising, while Publicis is responsible for products and solutions advertising.

Omnicom Exec VP Bruce Redditt, said to be spearheading the company's pitch, declined to comment, as did CAA.

While HP traditionally has not been a major player in entertainment marketing, the company is looking to carve a niche as a consumer-lifestyle brand. Its products, including PCs, digital cameras, printers and hand-held devices, could lend themselves to product-integration tie-ins with movies and TV programs.

As the advertising and entertainment industries converge, there are signs of unease in some of the alliances. Talent agencies and advertising agencies could find themselves increasingly facing off as marketers seek partners to help them navigate the new territory.

A rivalry already seems to be developing between Omnicom and CAA that extends beyond the HP review. Both companies work with the troubled mass retailer Kmart and there is said to be tension in those relationships as they vie for the attention of a shared client.


Executives close to the situation said that Omnicom's TBWA/Chiat/Day has found it awkward to co-exist with CAA as members of Kmart's braintrust. Kmart denied that, however, and denied a report that it is dissolving its relationship with CAA as a result. A CAA spokesman also said that there is no change in the status of the agency's relationship with the retailer.

CAA General Counsel Michael Rubel said: "The essence of CAA's culture is collaboration. CAA is proud of its collaboration in the marketing space, working successfully with agencies including [Interpublic], Saatchi, Berlin Cameron, Mullen and Omnicom." TBWA executives, including President of the Americas Tom Carroll, could not be reached for comment.

Separately, HP is expected to finalize a decision on an e-marketing review this week. Contenders include incumbent Interpublic Group of Cos.' FCBi, New York;, New York; Modem Media, San Francisco; Publicis' Publicis Dialog, San Francisco; and the European offices of MRM Partners Worldwide's Zentropy Partners. FCBi handled Compaq Computer Corp.'s interactive marketing prior to the company's acquisition by HP and has held the $50 million combined account since the merger closed in May.

contributing: tobi elkin

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