Marconi makes H&K first global agency of record

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 -

and Lucent.

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.

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