Kodak ends 12-year relationship with WSW, seeks new PR agency

ROCHESTER, NY: Kodak is on the prowl for a new PR agency for its

giant consumer imaging division, ending a 12-year relationship with

Weber Shandwick Worldwide.



Charles Smith, VP of PR for the worldwide division, said in recent

months the company found there were some "differing business and

strategic needs." Despite spending six months trying to resolve the

differences, Kodak and the agency could not find common ground, so

decided to separate.



Smith said the company has invited three PR agencies to bid on the

account.



While he would not name the agencies, he confirmed that since this is a

global account, all three firms have worldwide capabilities. The three

agencies have provided professional capabilities, and will do

presentations for Kodak in September.



The loss will be felt at the agency. While Smith would not reveal a

budget, his division, which includes film, digital photography,

videotapes, and cameras, contributes half of the company's $14

billion in revenues. The PR budget, he said, "is significant," and he

confirmed it is a multimillion-dollar account.



Scott Meyer, chief strategy officer for WSW, said, "Kodak has been an

important relationship for us. Our first focus is making certain that

Kodak is well-served during the transition. We're optimistic about

replacing the business. We've done it in the past."



Meyer echoed Smith's sentiments that as both sides honestly looked at

what they needed, "we realized that we had different models in mind and

they could not be matched up to meet the strategic needs of each

partner. It was a difficult decision for us and for Kodak. You don't

have a client for 12 years and not have a strong relationship," he

added.



The agency hopes not to lay off anyone on the Kodak account team. Meyer

said WSW was "aggressively" pursuing several options to replace the

business, which will enable the agency to move the Kodak team onto other

clients.



Kodak hopes to reach a decision quickly after the meetings. Smith added

that there will be a transition period as WSW completes assignments,

including work for the 2002 Winter Olympics, and works out the financial

negotiations with the new agency. He hopes to announce the new firm

selection in late October or November.



While this is a worldwide account, Smith said work during the first and

second year will be focused in the US.



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