Shops Gear Up To Pitch Siemens Work

Technology and telecommunications giant Siemens AG makes a bewildering array of products, from its well-known mobile phones to computers, digitally compatible hearing aids, IT-infrastructure services, systems integration, light rail vehicles and tram cars. Now, the diverse electronics and electrical-engineering marketer is reaching out to shops for ideas on a new global branding campaign, a client representative confirmed.

At least three agency networks are putting together teams from Europe and North America for the creative pitch, which one source described as “a corporate idea that could run globally” for the client. Sources said, however, that the pitches will be led mostly from the agencies’ offices in Britain or Germany. It was not immediately known when presentations were scheduled or when the client expected to make a decision.

The contenders include Publicis Groupe’s Publicis, Omnicom Group’s TBWA Worldwide and Interpublic Group’s McCann Erickson, the representative said.

The three are all roster shops for Siemens, which spends an estimated $150 million globally on advertising per year. The company, based in Munich, Germany, makes electronics and communications equipment for both industrial and consumer use, including laptops (though German subsidiary Infineon), organizers and cell phones, both under the Siemens and G3 labels—the latter competing against Nokia, Sony Ericcson and others.

One source, however, said existing roster duties are not part of the current pitch and are unaffected by the search for an agency to handle this new assignment. Spending was undetermined.

Publicis New York works for Siemens in the U.S. and parts of Europe. (In 2003, Siemens spent about $25 million on ads in America and $15 million from Jan.-Aug. of this year, according to Nielsen Monitor-Plus.) TBWA is a Siemens agency in Europe, and in July the network’s London office broke a global campaign created with IPG’s Springer & Jacoby for the company’s mobile phones.

TBWA’s London office won Siemens’ estimated $130 million-plus global launch of its G3 phones in 2003 after a review that included a then-roster shop, Portland, Ore.-based independent Wieden + Kennedy’s Amsterdam office. (Shortly after TBWA won that pitch, Wieden, a roster shop since 2000, resigned its remaining Siemens business.)

In 2002, TBWA pitched but failed to prevail against U.K. independents Mother and Naked to create ads for Siemens Information and Communication Networks division’s mobile handset Xelibri, an estimated $45 million-plus account. In 2003, Mother created an award-winning effort that included a spot from director David Fincher called “Love for Sale,” in which handsome, futuristic male models are revealed to be fat, hairy guys wearing costumes. That campaign was tagged, “That’s so tomorrow.”

Recent ads from TBWA’s Berlin office for Siemens Mobile include English-language TV spots for the MC60 picture phone and a print campaign that plays off the highlighted X in the MC60’s keypad with the words “sexy” and “exit.” The 30-second spot, called “Disco,” shows a frustrated woman waiting for her absent boyfriend. After giving up and leaving the disco, he uses his MC60 to send her a photograph of his dilemma: He’s stuck in the men’s room—without toilet paper.

McCann Erickson’s assignments includes Siemens power transmission, and Siemens Mobile units in Europe, Latin America and the Asia-Pacific region. All of the business was won since the beginning of this year.

None of the agencies was available for comment. The Siemens rep declined further comment.

Siemens reported a third-quarter 2004 net income increase of 29 percent to more than $1 billion from $819 million in the comparable period last year. In 2003, the company reported income of $2.8 billion on sales of $86 billion.

In a letter to shareholders in the 2003 annual report, Siemens president and CEO Dr. Heinrich Pierer said that “in the future, we will concentrate on three Company-wide programs—Innovation, Customer focus and Global competitiveness—into which we are incorporating all our existing initiatives and projects.” —