Microsoft ad review puts JWT and WPP on the spot, Omnicom and Publicis invited to pitch

Microsoft has invited Omnicom and Publicis to put forward agencies, or combinations thereof, to pitch for its ‘cloud’ computing business in the US, currently handled by WPP’s JWT agency which also handles Microsoft Office and Bing.

Essentially this means pitching for the whole account as cloud computing, delivering software equivalents via the internet, is the future for IT companies and a huge challenge for Microsoft which has so far relied on premium-priced packages, like Office, in a box.

So there’s something north of £1bn in billings at stake here and a real challenge for WPP boss Sir Martin Sorrell who prides himself on his relationship with big clients and can claim to have invented the modern trend towards marcoms groups cherry-picking agency teams for big global accounts.

The trouble is, from his point of view, that Microsoft US marketing boss Mich Mathews has invited Omnicom’s John Wren and Publicis Groupe’s Maurice Levy along to the party too.

Apparently Ms Matthews is upset that JWT hasn’t replaced North America chief creative officer Ty Montague and CEO Rosemarie Ryan who announced a few months ago that they were leaving, it’s believed to set up a marketing consultancy when their gardening leave expires. Will their phones be ringing over the next few weeks? One suspects so.

Last week JWT hired Bill Oberlander from Cossette as its new CCO on the Microsoft account. Given this latest news Oberlander has probably taken on the most daunting challenge in advertising.

Apart from that facing messrs Sorrell, Wren and Levy as they line up for what might be the biggest pitch of the year.

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About Stephen Foster

Stephen is a former editor of Marketing Week and London Evening Standard advertising columnist. He wrote City Republic for Brand Republic and is a partner in communications consultancy The Editorial Partnership.