NetApp has finished its months-long process to consolidate its global agency roster of 17 firms to four, hiring Hill+Knowlton Strategies to handle PR in EMEA and Weber Shandwick in Asia-Pacific.
The firms were the last additions to the company's shrunken agency roster, following its retention of Porter Novelli for the Americas in December and its hiring of Washington-based integrated communications shop Bluetext to handle PR for its US public-sector business.
Twenty-two agencies were involved in the search for the EMEA and APAC regional firms. NetApp was open to having one firm handle both accounts or splitting them, as turned out to be the case. Six agencies in EMEA and five in the Asia-Pacific region participated in the second round of the search.
“In order for us to stay competitive, we have always gone the innovation route, so we were looking for an agency that understood that and would present something to us that would help us take it to the next level,” said Jodi Baumann, senior director of corporate communications at NetApp.
H+K and Weber will both begin work at the May 1 start of NetApp's fiscal year, following the completion of the company's current regional agency contracts. Due to an H+K client conflict, Lewis PR will continue to support its regional account in France until the end of June, at which point H+K will take over.
Baxter Jolly, vice chairman of Asia-Pacific and MD of Southeast Asia at Weber, will lead the Asia-Pacific account from Singapore, reporting to NetApp Asia-Pacific analyst and PR manager Phyllis Tan.
Meanwhile, Grant Currie, London-based MD of the technology practice at Hill+Knowlton Strategies, will lead the EMEA account. He will report to David Gingell, senior director of marketing for EMEA at NetApp, who works in Amsterdam.
NetApp is also asking Porter to coordinate and consistently distribute information to the geographic partners.
The tech sector company picked both agencies based on their creativity, large yet executable ideas, chemistry with NetApp, branded offices in multiple countries within each region, and the ability to work within an agency model structure where they are reporting to another firm in certain scenarios, said Baumann.
“Here were two firms that came in and said, ‘You need to leverage a lot of what you already do and take it to the next level and you can do it with the budget you have,'” she said. “That was really exciting for us.”