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Agencies are fighting one another for the best talent, and nowhere is the battle more pitched than among tech and telecommunications ad shops.

Salaries for talented tech creative, account service and media people have as much as doubled since the beginning of 1994, said Steve Hayden, president of worldwide brand services on the $700 million IBM Corp. account at Ogilvy & Mather Worldwide, New York.

"People who combine a high level of creative skill and a high level of taste with a gut level understanding of technology issues . . . [are] pearls beyond price,"he said. "There just aren't that many 'wired' people around in advertising. There's really no faking it. It's like they either get it or they don't."

The tech shortage has agencies scrambling and talent job hopping.

"If a tech account is doing work, their people are getting calls," Mr. Hayden said, "Even if a tech account is doing bad work, their people are getting calls."

With so many tech people oriented to the tech capital of San Francisco and nearby Silicon Valley, Mr. Hayden says it's a challenge to draw people to work on tech or related telecom accounts in New York and other cities.

"Just imagine if you're in St. Louis. Try to get somebody to give up their apartment in [San Francisco's] Pacific Heights or their home in [the ritzy suburb of] Woodside," Mr. Hayden said.

Mr. Hayden, though, says the agency talent shortage should work itself out as younger people steeped in technology move up the ranks.

"Partly it's a generational thing," he said.

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