LONDON and NEW YORK: Telecommunications giant Marconi has knighted
WPP agency Hill & Knowlton as its first ever global agency of
The two-year account, worth an estimated dollars 10 million, began
initially as a b-to-b project, but during the course of the pitching
process expanded to include internal communications, media relations,
government affairs and investor relations.
The decision comes after a six-month search, involving six firms thought
to include Brodeur, Burson-Marsteller and Weber Shandwick Worldwide.
The account was previously handled by myriad local agencies scattered
across the globe.
Omnicom's Brodeur Worldwide reached the final round before being knocked
out. According to Marconi VP media relations, Mel Foster, H&K wowed the
marketing team with a media audit. 'It told us we needed a global agency
and that we had a significant challenge in being recognized as a leading
telecoms player,' said Foster.
Marconi told investors last November that it planned to take on North
American competitors such as Nortel - represented by Fleishman-Hillard -
H&K's president, Paul Taaffe, said: 'In defining what they needed, it
became obvious there was no other agency because their needs were so
Marconi's previous mosaic of local PR firms attached to newly acquired
business units held the company back, said Foster. 'Our view is that you
can't be a credible global player without a clear consistent
A reorganization in April saw the firm split into three units: networks,
wireless and enterprise. At the same time, Marconi announced it was
laying off 3,000 people.
Taaffe will head the account and work with Sally Costerton, head of the
UK tech division. Phase one is an internal communications project to
keep Marconi employees briefed about their counterparts. The firm is
still in the process of selecting an ad agency to work alongside
Marconi is due to report financial results on May 17 and will continue
to use London financial firm, Brunswick Group.