Agilent Suspends Agency Search

Agilent Technologies, which kicked off an agency search this summer, has put its review on hold, sources said.

Sources said the competing agencies were told recently that the review would not move forward at least until mid-November, but were not given an explantation.

The client has yet to trim its list down to finalists, although sources said numerous San Francisco shops received the RFP and as many as 15 shops were initially contacted. Incumbents McCann-Erickson (creative) and Interpublic Group sibling Universal McCann (media), both New York, are defending.

Agilent, a semiconductor and chemical company based in Palo Alto, Calif., split from Hewlett-Packard in 1999. It manufacturers testing and measurement devices for biotechnology and other industries. The company spent about $40 million on advertising in 2001, per CMR. It was unclear if spending will be adjusted when the review is completed.

According to sources, the client issued a “multitier” RFP that leaves open the possibility that portions of the work, including online advertising and direct marketing, could be handled by different shops.

Before informing agencies last week about the delay, the client had been “totally silent” since issuing the RFP in late July, one source said. “People are still interested,” a source said. “Any new business is good business.”

Executives at the client could not be reached for comment.

Sources have said shops are especially interested in working with Agilent because of its reputation as an environmentally conscious company that cares about its employees. It was recently ranked in Fortune magazine as one of the 50 best companies to work for in the U.S.

The 60-year-old company has about 37,000 employees around the world.