Pitches for Microsoft’s $1bn plus global advertising and media account are due to take place in early April but already it looks like becoming a shoot-out between Omnicom/Publicis, the hoped-for merger of the two agency giants, and WPP.
The other big contender, Interpublic, is on the back foot with the likelihood that its two media networks, UM and Initiative, will be merged if, as expected, UM loses the media business outside the US. Microsoft accounts for about 40 per cent of UM’s revenue outside the US.
The problem for Omnicom/Publicis is Apple, a huge Omnicom client and a rival to Micosoft in both software and phones. But Omnicom is working furiously to entrench Apple within TBWA Media Arts Lab, which has handled Apple creative since its famous launch campaign ‘1984’ from Chiat\Day (now part of TBWA). A successful combined pitch for Microsoft would lead to the creation of a ring-fenced operation for Microsoft too.
But media is seen by insiders as the key to pitch (the big tech giants are able to produce their own creative work these days, if they wish) and PG is trying to boost its Starcom MediaVest operation to counter WPP’s mighty GroupM although Carat, owned by Dentsu/Aegis, is also involved and has a habit of landing big global media accounts, most notably $3bn General Motors. Carat also won $250m Mastercard from UM in February.
No doubt WPP’s Sir Martin Sorrell has a few tricks up his sleeve too but the signs from Omnicom/Publicis are that it is preparing for life with Microsoft already.