Motorola Quietly Phones Agencies

Failure to Raise Profile May Threaten McCann’s $100 Mil. Task
SAN FRANCISCO–Motorola has contacted a handful of agencies nationwide for what could evolve into a review for the mobile-phone maker’s $100 million ad account, currently at McCann-Erickson, said sources.
The client is “quietly exploring its options,” sources said. A McCann representative declined to comment.
The process, which started earlier this month, is being led by Geoffrey Frost, vice president and director of consumer communications for Motorola, Schaumburg, Ill. Sources said he has been personally calling agencies to check for potential conflicts.
Frost joined Motorola in February after serving as global director of advertising and brand communications for Nike in Beaverton, Ore., While at Nike, Frost worked with Wieden & Kennedy in Portland, Ore., and Goodby, Silverstein & Partners in San Francisco.
Frost, however, denied a review was under way. “At this time, we are working hard with [McCann] to get this brand to where it needs to be,” he said. “We’re very encouraged with the work.”
That work targets the MTV generation with various pithy, comic vignettes, such as a group of subway riders who tumble to the ground after reaching for their cell phones. The versatility and flexibility of services, such as one-hand operation and Internet access, are highlighted.
Sources said Motorola executives are happy with the ads’ quality but do not think they send a clear message or heighten Motorola’s profile.
Rich Foss, the new vice president and director of global brand strategy for Motorola’s consumer solutions group, is also involved, said sources. He was previously vice president and general manager at Procter & Gamble, where he worked with D’Arcy Masius Benton & Bowles, New York, and Leo Burnett, Chicago.
McCann has handled global duties for Motorola’s consumer products since 1997, following a review that included Burnett, J. Walter Thompson in Chicago and Grey Advertising, New York.
There may be another factor behind Motorola’s exploration, sources added. The client is developing software and hiring an army of engineers to create products that will provide Internet access through hardware such as pagers. Next year, the client plans to include a browser in its cellular phones. This could be a conflict for McCann, which handles Microsoft’s $230 million U.S. ad account. That business includes Microsoft’s Windows as well as its Internet services. –with Trevor Jensen