Sun picks Bite and MWW to run $10 million PR account

SANTA CLARA, CA: Sun Microsystems has selected Bite Communications and MWW Group as its new US agencies. Bite will serve as the anchor agency, which is about 75% of the $10 million account.

SANTA CLARA, CA: Sun Microsystems has selected Bite Communications and MWW Group as its new US agencies. Bite will serve as the anchor agency, which is about 75% of the $10 million account.

Bite will focus on corporate communications, product PR, and analyst relations, while MWW will focus on corporate reputation issues, executive communications, and developing the company's "voice," said 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.

"Sun is embarking on the next phase of their [market] leadership, and we're delighted to be a part of that," said Burghardt Tenderich, Bite's North America GM. He added that the agency would be hiring to service the account.

Cunningham president Paul Bergevin said he was enormously proud of the work the agency had done with Sun over the past four years, and wished the company well.

The Sun account was a "substantial" piece of business for Cunningham, but Bergevin did not anticipate layoffs or office closures "at this time." He said the agency would focus on attracting new clients, including those who had been turned away in the past due to conflicts with Sun.

"Bite just knocked it out of the park," said Kahn. "It was a unanimous decision."

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."

MWW impressed Sun with case studies from other clients, and the amount of research the agency did to better understand Sun's business, including talking with numerous shareholders, said Kahn.

"They really did their homework," she added. "And they had great chemistry."

MWW president and CEO Michael Kempner said the agency was looking forward to being a part of the communications team promoting Sun's vision and leadership.

MWW's New York and New Jersey offices will manage the account along with a San Francisco office Kempner hopes to open within the next two months.

One of the more controversial aspects of the review, and one of the reasons Fleishman dropped out, was the use of dynamic bidding, often referred to as a "reverse auction."

Dynamic bidding allows the firms to submit their bids in an online marketplace. The lowest bid - though not the bidder - is continually displayed, compelling agencies to compete downward.

Kahn has stated that dynamic bidding was not about picking the lowest bidder, but about streamlining the negotiating process.

She said MWW was the highest bidder for the piece of business it won, while Bite's bid came in the middle, which she said shows it was never about the lowest bidder.

"Now we don't have to go through months of contract negotiations," she said, adding that the bids came within 10% of each other.

The new relationships will be phased in throughout May and June.

Sun is planning for three major upcoming initiatives: a branding campaign set to launch in June; a campaign focused on Fortune 500 companies in May; and a campaign celebrating 10 years of Java software, aimed at software developers.

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