APL Stumbles on Dell Creative

Client Halts Agency’s First TV Campaign During Production Staff Reports
DALLAS–Ammirati Puris Lintas was sent back to the drawing board last week by Dell Computer after the client expressed concern over the creative direction of an upcoming campaign.
Sources said the agency’s first work illustrated how special Dell’s relationship is with its customers by contrasting it with bad relationship scenarios.
The spots were in production when Dell quashed the campaign and requested a more positive approach. “Dell pulled everything and said go back to square one,” said a source.
The revised campaign will still be based on the original strategy of relationships and it will retain the tagline, “Every relationship should be this good.” The work, however, will be less negative in tone, according to sources.
An agency executive characterized the exercise as “revisiting” the work and said APL’s relationship with Dell is not in jeopardy. “They are helping us figure out what the right thing to do is. We are working together on this,” the source said.
A Dell representative denied there was a problem with APL’s approach. “All we’re doing is revisiting the dates more than anything this is about scheduling,” said Marci Grossman in Dell’s home and small business unit. She said Dell did not want to send dueling messages with a back-to-school and a small business campaign running at the same time.
“We fully believe in Ammirati’s creative horsepower and their ability to deliver in the fast-changing computer business,” Grossman added.
The work is APL’s first for Round Rock, Texas-based Dell since winning its estimated $30 million home and small business account in May. The account put APL back in the personal computer category following the loss of Houston-based Compaq in 1998.
Dell’s recent history with its agencies is a contentious one. In 1998, it moved its $110 million global and corporate branding business to BBDO in New York, ending a relationship of only nine months with J. Walter Thompson in Chicago. That split prompted JWT and Dell to both pursue lawsuits alleging breach-of-contract.
Goldberg Moser O’Neill in San Francisco, Dell’s former agency on APL’s business, resigned the assignment in April. GMO officials said they felt they were not able to produce the kind of creative work they wanted to–and that was needed–for the account [Adweek, March 29].