INTERNATIONAL: IBM chooses three outfits to run £40m worldwide PR

NEW YORK: Computer giant IBM has chosen three agencies to manage

its £40m global PR operations and no Top 10 agency has won any of

the accounts outright.

Product work went to Text 100, the global tech agency; year-old Magnet

Communications, a £16m US-only firm, won the technology innovation

and reputation management brief; and customer contact went to a

just-formed, IBM-exclusive Omnicom network called One Blue, which will

be led by Ketchum partner Rob Flaherty.

One Blue is said to include Fleishman-Hillard and IBM incumbent Brodeur

Worldwide, but Flaherty said a final decision on participants would vary

with IBM's needs.

IBM vice-president of corporate communications Jon Iwata praised Omnicom

for creating an organisation that fitted the client's needs.

Each agency has a two-year contract from 1 October. Combined, they will

serve 90 per cent of IBM's PR business. The remaining 10 per cent will

go to agencies in smaller countries where the three main firms lack a


Paul Jensen, Magnet executive vice-president and head of the agency's

technology practice, will lead his agency's account.

CEO Aedhmar Hynes will lead Text 100's work. It is the only firm to

release billings estimates, which are expected to exceed £12m.

Iwata would not be specific about IBM's total PR spend, but said that in

consolidating from 50 agencies worldwide to three, IBM would gain

economies of scale.

IBM's in-house PR operation was also reoriented to fit the three-agency

model. Three boards, each made up of senior communications executives,

will collaborate with each other and agency representatives.

A fourth board for corporate communications will handle internal

communications, finances and public policy. When the fourth board has

agency requirements, it will either use agencies on a project basis or

one of the three main agencies. One Blue will be the preferred agency

for public affairs and crisis work.

Losers included incumbents TSI Communications and Manning Selvage & Lee.

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