Holding Companies to Slug It Out Over Dell Account

Five Giants Prep Pitches to PC Maker That's Looking for Global-Marketing Solutions

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NEW YORK (AdAge.com) -- Dell's $760 million advertising account has inspired a holding-company war. Omnicom Group, Interpublic Group of Cos., WPP Group, Publicis Groupe and Havas are all creating special marketing-services teams in order to consolidate the account within their networks, according to executives familiar with the review.
Independent Mother, New York, which currently handles creative on a project basis for Dell's Inspirion laptop, and Aegis's Carat, which handles media buying and planning in Europe, Middle East and Africa for the marketer, could both gain from an account shuffle, should the PC company decide not to consolidate at one holding company.

Current roster
Omnicom's DDB, Chicago, handles enterprise marketing and business-to-business duties; sibling Prometheus has media responsibilities in North America; and Interpublic's MRM handles direct marketing.

Omnicom's BBDO, Atlanta, had handled consumer broadcast work for the marketer until the shop's New York office picked up the Best Buy account earlier this summer, which Dell considered a conflict.

The chance to work on that broadcast creative may have sparked holding companies' interest in the account, but one executive said Dell began planning a review of the entire account late spring.

Executives say Dell's focus -- led by new VP-Marketing Casey Jones, an Interpublic alum -- is on global-marketing solutions. While a holding-company consolidation could be the answer, it does not have to be.

Worldwide focus
After a year in which Dell was plagued by a massive battery recall, changes in the C-suite and delayed filings with the Securities & Exchange Commission, the Round Rock, Texas, marketer has managed to maintain a lead in worldwide PC shipments. Most recently, the marketer introduced a line of "Made in India" computers to appeal to a nationalistic middle class that is roughly the size of the entire population of the U.S. In China, the second-largest PC market in the world, Dell has been strengthening its IT services offerings -- a major differentiator there -- through a series of mergers and acquisitions.

Calls to Dell and holding-company spokespeople were not returned by press time.
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