$50 Mil.+ Microsoft Pitch: 2 Remain

NEW YORK Microsoft today narrowed its search for an agency to handle a new consumer-oriented assignment, sources said.

Sources identified the remaining contenders as MDC Partners’ Crispin Porter + Bogusky in Miami and Publicis Groupe’s Fallon in Minneapolis. Eliminated from contention were WPP Group’s JWT in New York and Interpublic Group’s McCann Erickson in New York—Microsoft’s lead creative agency, according to sources.

The Redmond, Wash.-based client will now test creative concepts from the remaining finalists before making its selection, sources said. The agencies either did not return calls or declined to comment and referred calls to Microsoft. The company, which previously acknowledged a search for new ideas, is “continuing the process,” said a representative. “We hope to bring this to conclusion by mid-February.” The rep declined to comment on the contenders.

The winning agency will develop a global campaign defining Microsoft to consumers in the context of its mobile, Vista and Live platforms, said sources. Spending on the effort is expected to exceed $50 million.

The pitch will not affect the status of Microsoft’s lead agency, and media duties for the new assignment would be handled by IPG’s Universal McCann, the lead media shop, a Microsoft representative said last month.

Microsoft’s major media spending totaled $350 million last year and more than $257 million in the first 10 months of 2007, according to Nielsen Monitor-Plus.