Microsoft is reviewing its UK PR business, held by August. One
Communications and its parent company Text 100 for almost 20 years.
The software giant, in the midst of legal problems in the US which
threaten its very existence, has invited in two sets of 12 agencies to
present credentials for a substantial portion of its UK corporate image
work and public affairs.
Shaun Orpen, director of corporate marketing for Microsoft in the UK, is
running the review and expects to establish shortlists for full pitches
within the next two months.
Relations between Microsoft and the Text 100 group are longstanding.
The group has worked on the account since Microsoft launched in the UK
19 years ago. The account moved from Text 100 to August.One after the
creation of the spin-off agency last summer. August.One, which has been
asked to pitch again for both accounts, has not yet decided whether it
will do so. The repitch covers the work of eight consultants out of a
total August.One UK staff list of 77 names.
August.One is just one of six agencies used by Orpen. The Red
Consultancy, Write Image, Isis, Mercury and Pattison Mitchell all share
aspects of the company’s estimated pounds 3 million annual PR spend.
The review does not cover work August.One handles for Microsoft in other
markets and accounts in Germany, South Africa, India, Singapore and
Australia are not understood to be in jeopardy. The UK consumer account,
shared with Red, is also thought to be safe. The corporate and public
affairs accounts in the UK are run by director Sarah Howe and public
affairs head John Fraser respectively. The agency’s UK managing director
Tariq Khwaja said: ’If we don’t pitch again it will give us a chance to
put some of our consultants on new business wins’.
The Microsoft UK press office - located at Microsoft headquarters, but
run by August.One staff - is unaffected by the review.