Microsoft kicks off six-figure b2b comms pitch

Microsoft has kicked off an agency pitch for its UK business comms brief, threatening Next Fifteen's decade-long hold on the work.

Microsoft: b2b agency review
Microsoft: b2b agency review

The review is at an early stage and Microsoft has approached a number of agencies with requests for information for the work, estimated to be worth up to £300,000.

UK director of PR Nicola Taylor said the company aimed to ‘to review competitively our commercial PR campaigns’ and Next Fifteen-owned incumbent Bite has been invited to repitch.

While there will be no change of focus beyond ‘communications targeted at people who use Microsoft for business’, Taylor said she would be ‘open to new ideas’.

The software giant is dominant in the desktop operating system market but is under pressure to translate this position to mobile devices increasingly popular with business users.

Microsoft’s b2b duties have been with Next Fifteen since 2003 when the group set up b2b tech offshoot Inferno specifically to handle the account, which it won from Hill & Knowlton.

The work moved over to Bite in 2009 when Inferno was merged into the agency. The conflict between the account and Bite’s existing work with Apple is thought to have been a catalyst for the iPhone maker’s split with the agency shortly afterwards.

Bite MD Kath Pooley said: ‘Bite, with its predecessor Inferno, has a long and productive relationship with Microsoft, having held the commercial PR business for a decade. We understand and respect Microsoft's decision to review at this time.’

Bite has experienced a challenging quarter that saw a management restructure, including the departure of CEO Clive Armitage and a small number of redundancies.

Bite recently dropped global client Nokia, though sister agency Text 100 picked up global work for BlackBerry.

Microsoft’s relationships with 3 Monkeys for consumer activity, Edelman for corporate work and JCPR for its XBox console are unaffected.

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