EDS Begins Prelim Talks With Agencies

CHICAGO Business consultant EDS has contacted three undisclosed agencies about its $5 million advertising account, sources said.

For the past five years, the Plano, Texas, company’s account has been with Publicis Groupe’s Fallon in Minneapolis. The shop will not be participating in the review, according to an agency executive.

“It’s very preliminary in nature,” an EDS spokeswoman said. “We’re working internally to better define our brand and we’ve sought the perspective of several outside agencies. Fallon has chosen not to participate. It’s not really an agency search.” She would not disclose names of agencies contacted or how many.

The company is best known for a 2000 Super Bowl spot that showed cowboys attempting to herd cats. The tongue-in-cheek spot likened the task to what EDS’s role is as a business consultant. Subsequent spots followed a similar vein: one showed people attempting to construct a plane in mid-air; another presented people running with squirrels, a la the bulls in Pamplona, Spain.

Though the company had spent as much as $50 million on advertising during its heyday, spending had drastically dropped off in recent years. The client spent only $6 million on advertising last year, according to Nielsen Monitor-Plus.

A recent campaign from Fallon, tagged “Manpower. Brainpower. Willpower,” was only expected to receive $8-10 million in spending during a limited run for the year. The company in recent years had been struck with financial and managerial setbacks.

One print ad in the series shows a charging bull in a bullring. “We’ve built an entire company on facing tough problems. Even our own,” proclaims the headline, making reference to the company’s string of earnings losses and a new management team.

The company, which has more than 130,000 employees and operates in 60 countries, reported 2003 revenue of $21.5 billion.