Novell Search Enters Late Stage

Network-software pro vider Novell has cut the list of contenders in its estimated $30 million review, sources said.

The Orem, Utah-based client is considering Interpublic Group’s Mul len, Wenham, Mass., and Hill, Holliday, Connors, Cosmopulos, Bos ton, along with WPP Group shops J. Walter Thompson, New York, and Sicola Martin, Austin, Texas. Incumbent Sicola is partnering with Young & Rubicam, New York, sources said.

At least one other undisclosed agency may also be in the mix, sources said.

At press time on Thursday, several of the shops had made presentations, and a decision is expected early next month, sources said. It is unclear if an additional cut will be made prior to an agency selection.

Debra Bergevine, chief marketing officer at Novell, had earlier confirmed the review, but she and other Novell officials did not return calls last week. Bergevine joined Novell in March in the newly created position with a mandate to help make the company more competitive by boosting the scope of its marketing.

Novell doubled its domestic ad vertising budget to $30 million in 2001 from $15 million just two years earlier. It is looking to move away from product-driven print campaigns to focus on a major image initiative that will include greater use of TV and radio, Bergevine has said.

It was unclear if Novell’s media account, handled by OMD, is involved. Sources have said the current search is focused on creative chores.

The company is seeking a broader positioning following its acquisition last year of Cambridge Technology Partners, an e-commerce consulting and integration outfit. Contenders were asked to present creative concepts and strategies that portray Novell as a well-rounded resource to solve users’ complex technology problems, rather than simply an equipment provider, sources said.

Recent Novell campaigns bore the tagline, “The power to change,” but Ber ge vine has said that will probably change.

The review is also moti vated by Novell’s desire to better compete against IBM, Micro soft, Sun Microsystems and others, and reverse its dismal financial performance, sources said. Novell lost $273 million in 2001 and saw its sales slip more than 10 percent last year to slightly more than $1 billion. Another problem is market share. In the early 1990s, Novell held approximately 70 percent of the network-software niche. Today its share stands at 15-20 percent.