Burson steels itself for major account reviews

NEW YORK: Burson-Marsteller is being forced to defend two of its most high-profile accounts as Sprint and Sun Microsystems put their business up for review.

NEW YORK: Burson-Marsteller is being forced to defend two of its most high-profile accounts as Sprint and Sun Microsystems put their business up for review.

NEW YORK: Burson-Marsteller is being forced to defend two of its most high-profile accounts as Sprint and Sun Microsystems put their business up for review.

The loss of Sun - Burson's biggest and oldest hi-tech account - could blow a hole of between dollars 5 million and dollars 10 million in the agency's annual revenues. Sources close to Burson have confirmed that Sun's internal PR team has begun contacting agencies about the corporate account. Both Burson, which handles corporate, workstations and software, and Ketchum, which handles the server business and a few other product areas, have been notified that at least some if not all of these pieces of business would be placed up for review. Other Sun agencies, including Eastwick and KVO, are not said to be affected by the decision.

Meanwhile, Sprint VP of corporate communications Bill White confirmed he had launched an agency search for the company's corporate business, which Burson has handled for five years. 'This is not a decision based on performance; Burson is and has been a great agency for us,' said White.

'It was just a good time to consider new approaches.' Burson will repitch for the account.

White added that Sprint's relationships with its other PR firms, which include Citigate Cunningham, were unaffected.

Of the Sun review, Burson technology practice chair Heidi Sinclair said: 'Like most companies in Silicon Valley these days, Sun is reevaluating its agency relationships and budgets.'

Sun corporate communications VP Jeremy Barnash would neither confirm nor deny the review.

Burson spokesman Peter Himler said Burson and Sun were currently 'in conversations' over the status of their relationship, but whether or not the corporate account was up for grabs was 'still undetermined.'

It is clear that if the Sun business is yanked, the agency will suffer.

According to one former Burson exec, Sun accounted for up to 40-50% of the agency's hi-tech billings, with about 30-40 employees staffing the account from nearly every US office. Another source put Burson's current retainer at close to dollars 1 million per month, though Sinclair denied that figure.





Have you registered with us yet?

Register now to enjoy more articles and free email bulletins

Register
Already registered?
Sign in

Would you like to post a comment?

Please Sign in or register.