Microsoft consolidates Australian HED brief

SYDNEY: US-based software giant Microsoft has consolidated the PR business for its Home and Entertainment Division (HED) in Australia, signing deals with Howorth Communications and Pulse Communications.

The two agencies jointly pitched for the account in a presentation led by Chris Savage, Australia MD of the agencies’ shared parent group, Ogilvy PR Worldwide.

Howorth will promote Microsoft’s hardware division, while Pulse will handle its Xbox games console, PC games and PC software.

Howorth is Microsoft’s agency of record for the B2B, products, services and corporate PR programmes in Australia, having been appointed in August last year (PRWeek, 2 August 2002).

Microsoft HED general manager, Asia-Pacific Alan Bowman said the further consolidation of the firm’s PR activity reflected ‘increasing synergy between all parts of Microsoft’.

Hausmann Communications had been working with Microsoft since January 2003, promoting Xbox and its gaming business. But a conflict of interest arose with Hausmann client Nokia, which this month plans to launch its portable N-Gage hybrid game-player/phone device in Australia.

Prior to Hausmann, the PC business was briefly handled in-house after three years with Spin Communications, which also promoted Xbox.

The appointments, which came in advance of the Australian launch of Xbox Live on 8 October, will see the agencies commence a PR blitz in the run-up to Christmas, the most competitive period of the year in the games market.

The account teams are led by Howorth client services director Kieran Moore and Pulse managing director Samantha Allen.

They report to Xbox regional group manager David McLean and Microsoft group manager for national sales and marketing, PC platform, Kimberley Francis.

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