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Microsoft Corp. may be consolidating media accounts in the U.S. and Europe.

The company last week shifted U.S. creative and much of the media buying for business software applications and the up-and-coming Windows NT operating system to Wieden & Kennedy, Portland, Ore., from Anderson & Lembke, San Francisco.


That business accounted for a majority of Anderson's $70 million-plus in Microsoft billings, industry executives say. Wieden already had the global brand assignment and now will have Micro-soft assignments approaching an estimated $200 million.

For business software and Windows NT, An-derson keeps media buying in computer publica-tions-for now, at least. Microsoft Corporate Ad Manager Eric Koivisto denied rumblings in agency circles that Microsoft is considering consolidating media at Wieden.

"That isn't something we're planning right now," Mr. Koivisto said, though adding, "There is going to be some evolution of things."

Said Anderson President-CEO Hans Ullmark: "Media buying is up in the air."

Meanwhile, industry executives say Microsoft is reviewing the media portion of its estimated $80 million account in Europe, now held largely by CIA Medianetwork International, a U.K. media service, and Mediastar, the media buying arm of Euro RSCG.

Microsoft likely will consolidate pan-European media at one agency, with CIA the favorite, the executives say. The review is expected to last several months.

Greg Perlot, Microsoft director of corporate advertising and research, said European media buying is "something we've been looking at" but denied there is a formal review.

In the U.S., Anderson still handles consumer products, developer software and Web media buying.

Of the work that moved to Wieden, Mr. Perlot said: "I would not generalize anything about what it means for (Anderson). We still have two agencies that are very important. Both have significant parts of our business."

Since winning Microsoft two years ago, Anderson and Wieden have had an uneasy working relationship, with each hoping to pick off business from the other.

Mr. Perlot said Microsoft wants cooperation between agencies but also gets better work by having some level of competition: "That's one of the benefits of having two agencies."

Anderson for months has been laboring on Microsoft, with a series of high-level creative changes resulting in Chairman Steve Trygg's decision to move to San Francisco from New York to be chief creative officer (AA, June 24).

Anderson early this year surrendered Microsoft's $10 million business direct marketing account, awarded last week to Cohn & Wells, San Francisco. Cohn is owned by Microsoft European agency Euro RSCG, but Mr. Perlot said that wasn't a factor.

Wieden, too, made key staff changes earlier this year, putting Nike veterans in charge of Microsoft. Former Nike U.S. Account Director John Russell in May became Microsoft global account director. The first Microsoft TV campaign by the new creative team-Bob Moore and Michael Prieve-also broke in May. The team and the ads are a hit with Microsoft, so Wieden's role is expanding.

"Wieden is doing really good work right now, and it's a reflection of that," Mr. Perlot said.

Wieden will add about 20 staffers; Anderson plans layoffs.

Wieden, the agency behind Microsoft's global brand campaigns, now is being asked to do U.S. advertising for serious, tech-laden business products. A key assignment will be the launch of Office 97, successor to the industry's best-selling software application. Wieden also will handle the critical launch of a new version of Windows NT, a high-end alternative to Windows 95.

While Wieden's product assignment is officially for U.S., Mr. Perlot said the work will be offered to geographic units globally. Wieden faces a challenge by Microsoft to create ads that are easily adaptable for international use.M

Contributing: Alice Z. Cuneo and Laurel Wentz's.

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