Microsoft last week was mum on the reason for the agency
changes, which JWT CEO Bob Jeffrey decried as unfair and
anger-inducing. And more are said to be on the way, particularly
relating to Windows Mobile, which is handled by CPB. "Microsoft
works with a number of agencies on a variety of projects," said a
spokeswoman in a statement. "Beyond that , we have nothing further
to share. We're not commenting on mobile at this time."
The roster shakeup is worrying to Microsoft's other agencies,
who now fear their relationships are also on the line. But the
bigger concern is that the shifts are coupled with a lack of
consumer-marketing experience atop the corporate-marketing division
at a time of challenges, from Microsoft's failure to answer the
iPad to its inability to create buzz for a mobile operating system
that trails Apple, Google and RIM.
Like Ms. Mathews, Mr. Capossela is a Microsoft lifer. The
onetime speech assistant to Bill Gates was previously responsible
for marketing business-to-business products such as Microsoft
Office and Visio. While he's said to be shifting into the CMO role,
Ms. Mathews is technically still at the company and won't be
leaving until summer.
A top exec at one of Microsoft's agencies described the
marketing suite as in a state of "chaos" right now.
Said a person within the company: "These are big jobs at really
important times for Microsoft and you have a business-marketing guy
running consumer marketing at a time when Google and Apple are
kicking our asses."
(Several people whom Ad Age spoke to noted there's a similar
transition atop the ad-sales division, as Frank Holland, a longtime
supply-chain executive, was last month named corporate
VP-advertising and online business. Mr. Holland is a virtual
unknown in the advertising and marketing world.)
While JWT was fired from the Bing account, the numbers suggest
its advertising for the search engine, which it handled since May
2009, has been successful. Since then, Microsoft's share of search
has shot up from 8% of the overall market to 14%, according to
ComScore, and it appears to be taking share from Yahoo and AOL.
The Bing move came just weeks before former JWT chief creative
Ty Montague's noncompete contract is set to run out and many
suspected that the business, or at least a portion of it, would
head to Co Collective, the shop that Mr. Montague and former North
American Rosemarie Ryan founded last year. The pair were critical
in JWT's winning the business before they left to launch their own
venture a year ago. But despite earlier ties to Microsoft and a
recent hiring spree, Ms. Ryan insisted to Ad Age that rumors Bing
work would land at Co's door were simply not true. For its part,
Microsoft said it has appointed Interpublic Group of Cos.' Deutsch to take on the Office work,
while CPB will create the next wave of Bing work.
The losses of Bing -- valued at $116 billion alone--and Office
reduce JWT's status on Microsoft's roster from one of the largest
to one of the smallest, with just a couple of bits of business in
China and Brazil, and will likely lead to layoffs. The agency
declined to comment on how many staff could be affected.
When Ad Age asked who JWT believes was behind its dismissal,
Jeremy Postaer, the JWT executive creative director on the Bing
work, said: "That's like asking who's the guy that shot Osama. ...
Who really knows?"