Siebel Seeks New Agency Amid Ongoing Sales Slump

Hard-hit by the global economic downturn and the perception that customer relationship management is “expensive, risky and complex,” Siebel Systems wants a shop that takes a “rigorous, metrics-driven approach to brand development,” according to a proposal request for the $20 million business.

The San Mateo, Calif.-based client, which makes CRM applications software, had its account at Publicis Groupe’s Publicis & Hal Riney in San Francisco for two years. The agency is not participating in the review, which was launched last week, sources said. Shop officials declined comment.

Siebel has issued RFPs to approximately 10 agencies, including San Francisco independents Grant, Scott & Hurley and Kirshenbaum Bond & Partners; Interpublic Group’s Deutsch/LA in Marina del Rey, Calif.; and WPP Group’s J. Walter Thompson in New York, sources said. Since hiring Riney, Siebel has also worked with McCann-Erickson on ads linked to Microsoft and with Ogilvy & Mather on ads tied to IBM.

Media, handled by Aegis Group’s Carat in San Francisco, is not part of the review.

Earlier this month, the client projected a revenue decline of up to 18 percent for 2003, which would mean eight straight quarters of downturns.

This is Siebel’s fourth agency search under vp of advertising, brand and customer references Andrew Salzman. He joined Siebel in 1999, when the company worked with McCann-Erickson in New York and San Francisco. In 2000, the account moved to Cole & Weber in Seattle. TBWA\ Chiat\Day in Playa del Rey, Calif., handled the business for two months in 2001 before Riney was tapped.

Prior to joining Siebel, Salzman worked at Compaq and was responsible for hiring DDB in New York.

In addition to Salzman, client decision makers include group director of worldwide advertising Michael Grekin and senior manager of advertising Lisa Chin. Company founder Tom Siebel is also involved in the review.

The client, whose competitors include SAP, Oracle and PeopleSoft, seeks an agency that can provide advertising, PR, Web marketing, below- the-line demand generation and fulfillment, collateral and analyst relations, the RFP states. The shop should have a West Coast office and experience in technology and building global brands, according to the RFP.

The agency will be asked to help establish a new umbrella positioning under which all company products and services can be linked. The company’s goal, as stated in the RFP, is to “enhance our leadership position as the CRM solutions provider that enables the customer-driven enterprise … one that maximizes the value of their customer relationships.”

The search comes as Siebel attempts to cut costs, according to one source [Adweek online, July 9].

Siebel representatives did not return calls.

Responses to the RFP are due July 14. Following a cut to five or six semifinalists, presentations will take place in mid-August. Two or three agencies will present work to Tom Siebel in early September. A decision is expected by Sept. 10.

Riney’s work for Siebel is tagged, “Proven CRM, proven results.” The effort, which focuses on return-on-investment, targets CEOs and other high-level executives.

The client plans to have its agency produce three to four print ads per quarter with supporting online work. Siebel has also used TV, radio and out-of-home, according to the RFP.

The RFP states that spending will be $20 million. Siebel spent about $15 million on ads in 2002 and $5 million through April 2003, according to TNS Media Intelligence/CMR.