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."