Microsoft win sets stage for McCann/A&L merger

By Published on .

Most Popular

McCann-Erickson North America is considering a merger of its San Francisco office with Anderson & Lembke's following the win last week of Microsoft Corp.'s U.S. Windows account. A&L is owned by McCann.

"That would be a logical thing to do," said Don Dillon, president of McCann-Erickson North America. Mr. Dillon said it's being "contemplated only." But insiders say it will happen.

McCann, long lusting after the Microsoft Corp. business, finally achieved its first formal relationship with the software giant with its win of Windows, a high-profile account likely to reach the high tens of millions of dollars when Windows 2000 ships late this year or in 2000.


Microsoft in April pulled Windows from Wieden & Kennedy, Portland, Ore., and heard only one formal pitch: a team from McCann and Anderson & Lembke, San Francisco.

A&L had the rest of Microsoft's software product work, and Rob Schoeben, director of integrated marketing communications for the business and enterprise division, said his hope early on was to hire McCann/A&L and put all product advertising under one roof -- if McCann was up to the job.


"They knew very well that there were others lined up had they been unsuccessful, and they did not take it casually," Mr. Schoeben said.

During the process, Microsoft did not hear presentations from other shops but informed inquiring agencies it would get back to them if it needed to, he said.

The Microsoft win follows McCann's other key tech and telecom wins over the past year, including Gateway, Silicon Graphics, Sprint Corp. and a Hewlett-Packard Co. spinoff.

Mr. Dillon said McCann's New York and San Francisco offices will work with A&L on the assignment, which includes the Windows 2000 business line, Windows 98 for consumers and Windows CE for applications beyond the PC.


In addition to presenting a "point of view" about how the Windows business should be handled, Mr. Dillon said McCann offered Microsoft "a way of working." As he put it, "We want to upgrade their game."

Mr. Schoeben said Microsoft intends to deliver a consistent story to specific customer segments, such as information technology professionals, while also delivering a consistent message about given products.

The account will be welcome at McCann, San Francisco, which has lost key clients such as AT&T Corp., Safeway Stores and Pacific Gas & Electric Co., and has been without a creative director since November. McCann in recent weeks has been quietly prospecting for tech talent to work on Microsoft.

Microsoft hired A&L in 1994. McCann, owned by Interpublic Group of Cos., bought A&L a year later -- largely, one executive close to the agencies said, to get Microsoft.


The strategy worked, just as it worked on the other part of "Wintel," when Euro RSCG bought Intel Corp. shop Dahlin Smith White, Salt Lake City. When the dust settled, Messner Vetere Berger McNamee Schmetterer/Euro RSCG, New York, ended up as Intel's global shop.

McCann Chairman-CEO John J. Dooner Jr. has a relationship with Microsoft Chief Operating Officer Bob Herbold dating to McCann's work in Japan for Procter & Gamble Co., Mr. Herbold's former company.

Mr. Schoeben reiterated that corporate brand advertising will remain at Wieden. But McCann/A&L still wins big, commanding more than half Microsoft's estimated $220 million U.S. advertising spending. The estimated $180 million non-U.S. work is split among multiple agencies, reflecting Microsoft's decentralized geographic structure.

Copyright June 1999, Crain Communications Inc.

In this article: