Microsoft is understood to have put its global media planning and buying agency Universal McCann on notice. The move is likely to threaten the software company’s relationship with Interpublic Group’s McCann WorldGroup, which handles the consolidated 450m advertising, media and marketing business.
The mini-holding company within IPG includes advertising agency McCann Erickson, direct and interactive division MRM Worldwide, and PR agency Weber Shandwick as well as Universal McCann itself.
The move could see the IPG-owned agencies lose both the Microsoft and MSN brands.
In the UK, Microsoft’s advertising is worth 16m.
Microsoft declined to comment as Marketing Week went to press.
Microsoft’s action could bring an end to a relationship that first began in 1999, when McCann wrestled Microsoft’s US advertising account from Wieden & Kennedy. The same year McCann Erickson Worldwide’s media operations were grouped under one name – Universal McCann.
In 2001, Microsoft consolidated its global advertising business, then worth $425m (291m), into McCann Erickson resulting in Euro RSCG losing its hold on the 7m UK account (MW March 8, 2001).
McCann has just rolled out a campaign in the US, worth $120m (67m) a year, which aims to dispell negative connotations associated with being a huge US company (MW January 26).
This latest campaign is a continuation of the software giant’s “Realising Potential” and “Start Something” strategies, created by McCann Erickson in 2004.
These campaigns aimed to focus on how technology can enhance people’s lives, rather than on technological developments themselves.