Oracle moves PR work in-house, drops Applied Communications

SAN FRANCISCO: Oracle has parted ways with Applied Communications,

its long-term agency of record, as part of a plan to bring more of its

PR work in-house.

Applied first started working with Oracle eight years ago. The company

said that it is not seeking a new agency of record, but made the

decision primarily because of departmental restructuring.

"This is part of a bigger change that has been taking place for a while

now," said Paul Burrin, Oracle's SVP of corporate marketing. "We are

trying to integrate our communications much more effectively."

To that end, Oracle has formed a corporate marketing function, bringing

together the PR functions from various teams, including PR, analyst

relations, direct marketing, and others. "Typically, they all operated

in their own right. We realized we needed to regroup."

The company said it will also be adding to its PR staff in the near


Oracle still retains PR21 for projects on the applications side. "It is

part of our strategy now to retain agencies to work on a project basis

where we see value," said Carol Sato, Oracle's senior director for


Applied dealt with the issue proactively, and issued a press release

announcing it had lost the client. While the loss is certainly a

financial blow, Alan Kelly, the agency's president and CEO, said that

the impact is less severe than it might have been in the past.

"I think this is a day that I have prepared for," Kelly said. "The

account is fairly healthy, but not nearly as large as it used to be." In

1997, the agency briefly resigned the Oracle account. "During our brief

divorce, it was well over half our business," he said. It was our

wake-up call that we would have to be more diversified."

When asked what made him most proud of the work Applied has done with

Oracle, Kelly said it was pitting the upstart company against mighty IBM

as an e-business leader. "We essentially robbed that position from IBM,"

he said. "We positioned Oracle as the company that deserved it."

Kelly admitted that he's thought about what more his agency could have

done to keep the account. "I think it's always the agency's job to

demonstrate value, and I think that obviously they made a decision that

they can derive higher value through an in-house approach," he said. "I

take that personally, and to heart."

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