Sun names final quintet of firms for its $10m account

SANTA CLARA, CA: Sun Microsystems has selected the five agencies, including three incumbents, that will compete for its $10 million US account. Incumbents Ogilvy PR and CHEN PR did not make the cut.

SANTA CLARA, CA: Sun Microsystems has selected the five agencies, including three incumbents, that will compete for its $10 million US account. Incumbents Ogilvy PR and CHEN PR did not make the cut.

Along with incumbents Bite Communications, Citigate Cunningham, and Fleishman-Hillard, Sun also named Ruder Finn and MWW Group as finalists.

The account will be split into two distinct pieces, explained Karen Kahn, senior director of worldwide PR. Twenty-five percent of the account will focus on corporate reputation issues, executive communications, and developing Sun's "voice." All five firms can compete for that.

But MWW will not compete for the other 75%, which Kahn described as the "anchor agency" account, focusing on corporate communications, product PR, and analyst relations. While the other four finalists can compete for both pieces, MWW's abilities are best suited to the corporate reputation and executive communications components, she said.

Kahn added that it's possible one firm could win both components, "but the goal is to come up with one anchor agency. We never felt there was just one agency for Sun. There are firms that can be really strong in day-to-day work, but maybe not as strong in corporate reputation."

Sun will meet with the five finalists at the agencies' offices this week. Final presentations are scheduled for April 18, and the dynamic bidding, or reverse auction, is scheduled for April 19. She said the agencies would go through dry runs on the dynamic bidding, which allows the firms to submit their bids in an online marketplace. The lowest bid - though not the bidder - will be continually displayed, allowing agencies to compete downward.

Kahn reiterated that the dynamic bidding is not about picking the lowest bidder, but about streamlining the negotiating process.

Bite, Cunningham, and RF all said they were happy to be included among the finalists, while Fleishman and MWW declined comment.

"We had four great years with Sun doing award-winning work," said Michael Law, MD

of Ogilvy's San Francisco office. "We wish them the best."

Chris Carleton, a principal with CHEN, said the agency enjoyed its five-year relationship with Sun, but understood the company was looking for a different model.

"It's never fun losing a client," said Carleton. "But it would be worse to have lost them because they were unhappy."

Agencies were judged on 14 criteria, including strength of their technology and corporate practices, analyst relations experience, strength of their California office, experience working on big accounts, experience with executive communications, and vertical market expertise.

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