Motorola, Omnicom Shops Work Out ‘Different Model’

Motorola last week said it is in discussions with a number of agencies in an effort to create a “somewhat different model” for its advertising roster, according to the client. Motorola is talking with three Omnicom shops, in addition to independent 180, to replace its former lead agency, Ogilvy & Mather, sources said.

Former marketing chief Geoffrey Frost began the process before his death in November, and it is now being steered by George Neill, who absorbed Frost’s duties and heads a 10-person marketing council.

It is believed that Frost initially sought to handpick creative talent from various Omnicom agencies to work on Motorola globally. Omnicom, however, appears to be sticking to its past practice of offering individual agencies to chose from rather than pooling talent from multiple shops.

“We’re looking to create a somewhat different model” than in the past, said corporate vp of marketing George Neill, “We’re working together to make these decisions.”

While Motorola is likely to tap multiple agencies, Neill on Friday spoke of an “all stars team” and said the number of shops and how the work will be divided has yet to be finalized. Under one scenario, the bulk of the business may be split between two shops along U.S. and international lines, said sources.

“We don’t really have a specific model in terms of agencies,” said Neill. “We’re working with multiple partners to get what we need.”

Sources said Omnicom has put forth BBDO, Goodby, Silverstein & Partners and TBWA Worldwide to compete against 180 for what’s expected to be the majority of Motorola’s estimated $100 million global ad spend, said sources.

WPP Group’s Ogilvy had been lead global agency since 2000, but last year saw its business splinter as the client doled out a string of creative assignments to other shops. In the spring, 180 landed a creative assignment on the Pebl phone, and during the summer, BBDO was hired to launch the Rokr iTunes phone. Goodby, which announced recently that a new creative hire was arriving to work partly on Motorola, appears to have an assignment as well.

Ogilvy has lost its U.S. business, but still has chunks in other regions, including Asia, a huge market for Motorola, sources said. Ogilvy declined comment.

The agencies began meeting with client executives last fall, but after Frost’s death, some sources wondered if the process would continue, especially since some of the agencies were included based on relationships with Frost. Goodby, for example, worked on Nike in the 1990s, when Frost was global director of advertising and brand communications there.

Under Neill, who joined Motorola in July before the review began, the meetings have continued. About a half-dozen more are scheduled during the next month, in different cities around the world, said a source. “This is a company that is very decentralized,” the source added. “There are other people in the mix besides the marketing guys. A lot of other guys there hold P&Ls deciding how things should be worked out.”

The contenders either declined comment or could not be reached.

Neill is said to be familiar with TBWA from his previous job at Apple, where he was senior director of marketing. TBWA\Chiat\Day in Playa del Rey, Calif., is Apple’s lead agency. He also knows TBWA\ C\D San Francisco president Mike Allen from when they worked together at Rubin Postaer & Associates in the early 1990s.

The process, which some expect to conclude by March, follows global reviews last year for customer relationship marketing and media. FCBi, a unit of Interpublic Group’s Foote Cone & Belding, won the CRM global account in May, beating Havas’ Euro RSCG 4D and the incumbents Wunderman and OgilvyOne. Revenue on the customer relationship business, which includes interactive marketing, is estimated at more than $20 million. FCB is not being considered for the ad work, however.

Motorola’s media review resulted in U.S. duties shifting to Aegis Group’s Carat from IPG’s Universal McCann, and international duties being consolidated at WPP’s MindShare. Previously, international duties were split between MindShare and UM.