SANTA CLARA, CA: Hitachi Data Systems has ended its AOR relationship with Hill & Knowlton after less than two months, in what one H&K representative said was differences in digital strategy.
"We reached an impasse on an element of the company's digital strategy," said Joe Paluska, director of H&K's technology practice.
Related to the dispute is a Hitachi-made viral video featuring television actor Mr. T that was posted on YouTube Jan. 21. The video, which featured Mr. T facing off against a league of zombies and an obnoxious consultant while touting Hitachi's systems, which appears to have factored in the decision.
"We need a partner that knows there is a difference between a corporate video with a man in a suit, and a viral video with an action star," said Steven Zivanic, HDS director of corporate communications.
The video can be viewed here.
Hitachi said Friday that the viral video was seen at least 5,000 times in four days, and Hitachi is very satisfied with the results.
"We wanted to do something different, and lighthearted," said Mary Ann Gallo, senior director of PR, said.
She added that as a viral video, it's been viewed on several different sites from YouTube to Yahoo! and commentary from viewers is positive.
"We're super pleased about it; it's forcing folks to see Hitachi in a different way," she added.
Zivanic said that the split with H&K was not based solely on one Mr. T viral.
"H&K was simply not a strategic fit with the company," he said. "There were more issues than a video. That quote is an understatement. There were multiple issues on multiple areas."
Gallo said there will be more videos made with Mr. T, and to expect to see more unconventional approaches in its multi-faceted corporate strategy.
"This is the way the company is moving forward," Gallo said.
"We need an agency that matches that mindset," Zivanic added.
This is the first time Mr. T., star of hit cable show I Pity the Fool, has done work in the IT space. In the video, he uses the Hitachi-penned line, "I put the T in IT."
H&K won the business in a three-way competitive pitch late last year and began work on December 1.