NEW YORK In an unusual move, security software maker McAfee has picked digital shop Tribal DDB as its lead agency for all its advertising initiatives.
Omnicom Group’s Tribal won a review for the assignment against contenders that included Young & Rubicam and Dentsu, per sources. It covers digital, print, outdoor and some TV. McAfee, which used Y&R San Francisco for projects, did not previously have a global agency of record.
Spending was undisclosed. McAfee spent $5 million on advertising in 2007, according to Nielsen Monitor-Plus, and $3 million in the first six months of this year.
Tribal won the account with a San Francisco team that included members of sister agencies DDB and OMD. While backed by DDB, Tribal drove the pitch and will be in the lead role for the account, said Liz Ross, president and chief marketing officer for Tribal.
“It speaks to our maturity as an agency,” she said. “It will continue to muddy the water. I don’t want to be a digital agency. I just want to be an agency. I feel like most agencies in current incarnations don’t address their client needs and have so much overhead. I don’t feel there are a lot of great idea agencies out there. I think that because we’re a little flatter and leaner we have a better chance of being a lead agency.”
Tribal has served as the lead agency for assignments on behalf of clients like Nokia and Deutsche Telekom, but landing a global account is new. Other digital shops have managed to win lead agency duties for brands, albeit frequently backed by general agency siblings. Agency.com, for instance, won the LG Electronics’ digital-display business last December.
Tribal drew on DDB for help with the McAfee pitch. Lisa Bennett, chief creative officer of DDB San Francisco, will be in charge of integrated creative. Geoff Gougion, managing director of Tribal in San Francisco, will lead the team.
Tribal identified McAfee’s brand challenge as differentiating it from competitors Norton and Symantec. To prove that the brands tend to blend together for many consumers, Tribal turned to Brandtags.net, a Web site that produces tag clouds of the words users associate with brands. The clouds for McAfee and its rivals were similar.
Ross noted that big brands like Visa were claiming identity protection in their ads.
“There’s an optimism bias,” she said. “Nobody believes it will happen to them.”
Tribal plans to break work for McAfee by year’s end.