SANTA CLARA, CA: With two new agencies in place following a heated pitch, Sun Microsystems is looking to launch a host of campaigns aimed at restoring some of the luster to its brand and business.
Bite Communications and MWW Group walked away with the tech company's coveted business on April 22. Bite will serve as the anchor agency - about 75% of the $10 million account - focusing on corporate communications, product PR, and analyst relations. MWW will focus on corporate reputation issues, executive communications, and on developing the company's "voice," explained Karen Kahn, director of worldwide PR.
The other two finalists were incumbent agency Citigate Cunningham and Ruder Finn. Fleishman-Hillard, also an incumbent, was originally a finalist but dropped out.
Both Bite and MWW will play central roles in developing the new initiatives.
Sun is planning three major efforts: a campaign focused on Fortune 500 companies this month, a branding campaign set to launch in June, and a celebration of 10 years of Java software aimed at software developers.
During its most recent quarterly earnings call, Sun pointed to positive signs of the company's resurgence: a narrower loss than last year's quarter, stable revenue for the first three quarters of fiscal year 2005, improving profit margins, and reduced operating expenses.
But some analysts are skeptical, citing a lack of changes in Sun's business model that would lead to better earnings. Its most recent quarterly earnings revealed shrinking revenue and a greater-than-expected net loss.
But the new firms are eager to help Sun put its dark days behind it.
Kahn pointed to Bite's insight of Sun's business and market, and its creative and fresh thinking about "the kinds of things we need to do to move the needle with our audiences."
For Bite, Sun is the largest client in the agency's history.
Some were critical of the Sun review because of its use of "dynamic bidding," otherwise known as a reverse auction. Fleishman cited the process as one reason for its pull-out.
Dynamic bidding allows the firms to submit bids in an online marketplace. The lowest bid is continually displayed, compelling agencies to compete downward.
Kahn has said the process was not about picking the lowest bidder, but about streamlining the negotiating process. Indeed, MWW was the highest bidder for the piece of business it won, while Bite's bid came in the middle.
"Now we don't have to go through months of contract negotiations," she said, adding that the bids came within 10% of each other.