Compaq Marketer Exits; DDB on Hot Seat

Andrew Salzman last week abruptly resigned as senior vp, worldwide advertising/brand strategy at Compaq Computer Corp., adding to the string of top executive losses at the beleaguered PC giant.
Salzman’s exit comes as lead shop DDB Worldwide has been under pressure to deliver a strong brand campaign for its $150-million client. Salzman told Adweek he would pursue other interests and is mulling two offers, but declined to elaborate.
DDB, sources said, has been “working diligently but struggling”
to nail a compelling platform for the company’s e-business marketing efforts, which launched in March. The client feels DDB hasn’t produced the standout advertising that Ogilvy & Mather has produced for IBM’s e-business push, sources said. The “Better answers” theme will also likely be realigned once a new direction is determined for a September ad launch, sources said.
DDB chairman and chief executive Keith Reinhard and North American president Ken Kaess have held a series of meetings in recent weeks with Compaq chairman Ben Rosen, presenting their ideas to sharpen the focus of the campaign. Reinhard last week confirmed the talks but said the agency’s relationship with Compaq had “never been stronger” and that Salzman’s departure would not alter it.
Compaq, which is grappling with high costs, has seen more than its fair share of upheaval recently, having ousted chief executive Eckhard Pfeiffer in April and turning over leadership of the nation’s leading PC maker to Rosen. A search is ongoing for a new CEO and chief financial officer.