Gateway 2000 taps DMB&B

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Gateway 2000 on Friday named D'Arcy Masius Benton & Bowles, Los Angeles, as first worldwide agency of record for its estimated $70 million account.

DMB&B will work with the PC direct marketer's in-house ad group, with DMB&B focusing on the consumer market and probably buying the "lion's share" of media outside PC publications, according to James Taylor, senior VP-global marketing. Gateway's in-house group will create and buy media in PC enthusiast publications.

The precise roles of the agency and in-house group are still to be worked out. "At some times, [the in-house staff] will be working essentially for the agency. At other times, the agency will be doing production for them," Mr. Taylor said. In other cases, DMB&B and the in-house department will collaborate on projects.

"We were looking for a relationship in which the ad agency works with our creative people on a real direct basis," Mr. Taylor said in an interview.

DMB&B edged out an agency finalist many computer insiders bet on, J. Walter Thompson USA, Chicago and New York. Mr. Taylor is a former executive with Hill & Knowlton, a corporate sibling of JWT, and review watchers believed that gave JWT an edge. But Mr. Taylor consistently said his previous association gave JWT no advantage.

Mr. Taylor said he informed DMB&B of its victory March 21, though executives close to the agency had hinted March 20 to Advertising Age that the account was coming their way.

"It was a very tough decision," Mr. Taylor said. "It's taken a week to make it." Agency presentations were March 13 and 14.

Mr. Taylor cited DMB&B's "slight edge in chemistry" and singled out a strategic presentation by Maureen Craig, director of account planning.

"She did a presentation on strategy that pretty much knocked us dead," Mr. Taylor said. "We learned something about us that we didn't know before."

Ms. Craig, who will play a planning role on the account, formerly worked at Rubin Postaer & Associates, Santa Monica, Calif., and Campbell-Ewald, Los Angeles. Her mother, Jean Craig, is a veteran West Coast creative who co-founded and is retired from the former Kresser/Craig Advertising, now Kovel Kresser & Partners, Santa Monica.

The account will be based in Los Angeles. Managing Partner Diane Krouse and Senior VP Ron Boyd will run the account; Creative Director Steve Landrum will lead creative. Ron Lawrence will serve as worldwide media director.

Ms. Krouse said the pitch was unusual in that Gateway allowed DMB&B and other contenders numerous opportunities to meet brand managers and other Gateway staffers.

"We had months to get to people at every level," she said. "It wasn't just a date in which you had three hours to show your brilliance."

DMB&B is taking over effective immediately, though it will take a little time to make the transition from other agencies.

Mr. Taylor said DMB&B's Gateway team "probably will be off and running in Asia in about a week, within a couple weeks in the States and probably a little bit slower in Europe."

While Gateway is buying an agency, the agency must buy into Gateway's culture. The culture--steeped in homespun Midwestern values, branded with Gateway's ubiquitous Holstein cow logo--has produced one of the computer industry's hottest and most credible brands. It is based on a cult of employees who believe in their cause as strongly as Apple Computer's maverick troops did before Apple fell on hard times.

Gateway's former agencies are Carmichael Lynch, Minneapolis; Finex, London, for European and Japanese creative; European media buyer Optimedia, London; and Japanese media buyer Dentsu, Tokyo.

Copyright March 1997, Crain Communications Inc.

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