Sybase hires Bite as AOR after firm creates client-conflict unit

SAN FRANCISCO: Sybase has selected Bite Communications as its AOR after the international agency opted to create a new division to sidestep potential conflicts with its existing clients

SAN FRANCISCO: Sybase has selected Bite Communications as its AOR after the international agency opted to create a new division to sidestep potential conflicts with its existing clients.

Incisor Communications will be a part of Bite, but there are no plans to spin off the organization into an independent entity, said Jason Clarke, VP of business development and marketing at Bite.

"With so much consolidation in the marketplace, we wanted to find ways... we could represent brands that are of this high caliber," Clarke said. "Opportunities to do that are so few and far between that we made the move to create this new [division] that would allow us to pitch for Sybase, but potentially other brands that perhaps cross over with some of the enterprise brands that we represent."

Sybase selected Bite as its AOR following a two-month competitive review that initially involved about 10 agencies, said Mark Wilson, VP of corporate marketing at Sybase. "We liked how they were creating the Incisor brand; that was important to us," he said.

Wilson declined to disclose the amount of the contract, but said that negotiations are "very close" to completion.

Bite competed against Porter Novelli in the final round. Sybase worked with its previous AOR, Citigate Cunningham - which pitched for the account - for six years. But the company opted to reassess its agency relationships after Wilson stepped into the role of VP of corporate marketing last October, he said.

Representatives at Citigate were not avail-able for comment.

"We had been rock solid with Citigate... [but] as the business grows, it seemed like a good time to get some new ideas," Wilson said. "We liked that Bite had a customer-centric approach to building out communications strategies, and we saw them to be very savvy around social media."

Incisor will support corporate, technology, and product PR across Sybase's three divisions: IPG, iAnywhere, and Sybase 365. PR tactics will include traditional press relations, but will also make a concerted push in the new and social media arena, Wilson added. Incisor will immediately begin work on Sybase's "Unwired Enterprise" campaign, including the Sybase Classic event in May featuring Alan Greenspan.

Clarke said the size and structure of Incisor is still being determined through contract negotiations with Sybase. He said Bite does not have a similar division dedicated to a single client, but Incisor's organization will most closely resemble the agency's Cleantech practice.

"The [division] will have the same kind of brand attributes as Bite... but the only difference is we now have the ability over time to pitch for other pieces of business that we might not normally be able to pitch for," Clarke noted.

Incisor team members will continue to work on other Bite accounts that do not conflict with Sybase, he added. He declined to name the specific clients that contest Sybase, but acknowledged that conflicts were most likely with high-pro-file enterprise clients, such as Applied Materials, Sun Micro-systems, and AMD.

Last year, the enterprise software and services company reported revenues of about $1 billion, and hopes its refreshed communications strategy will foster further growth, Wilson said.

"We got to historic highs in terms of revenues and profits, and a lot of momentum around the business," he said. "We're looking at where do we need to be to become a $2 billion or $4 billion company and what that means in terms of our communications."

Sybase recently opened an in-house studio to create multimedia content to accompany news releases. Last month, the company posted an in-house generated video on YouTube demonstrating Sybase's product support for the iPhone, which was also embedded into a conventional news release.

Sybase will continue to work with various global PR agencies for some regional work, Wilson said. The Incisor team will be based in San Francisco and New York.

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