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Agencies Eyeing $12 Mil. Plantronics Ad Account

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Plantronics, which makes and markets telephone headsets, has called a $12 million review to find an agency to expand its presence in the consumer market, sources said.

A contender list was not immediately available, although sources said five or six Bay Area shops with tech experience are competing. A decision is due early next year.

One source said the company is coveted largely due to the rampant growth in cell phones and communication gear. The company's products are more expensive than traditional headsets but have gained popularity among businesses, particularly those in the high-tech sector.

"Ad people like to work with things they can feel and touch," one source said. "This is cool stuff that doesn't go over anyone's head."

Sources said initial pitches are scheduled to begin this week. It was not clear if agencies will present spe culative creative work to the client or simply meet for chemistry checks.

Executives with the company could not be reached for comment.

Plantronics, established in 1961, created the world's first lightweight telephone headset, according to the company's press materials. It is now in an expansion mode aimed at placing its products in homes, offices and on cell phones in addition to business-to-business call centers.

The company has more than 2,600 employees and is located in Santa Cruz, Calif. Sources said it has never used an agency before.

Most recently, Plantronics announced an agreement with HearMe, which designs voice-activated software for phones. Under the agreement, the companies will work together to promote the partnership as a communications solution for businesses.

Sources said the winning agency will have a lot to work with because the company designed the headset that astronaut Neil Armstrong used during the first lunar landing in 1969.

"Just with Neil Armstrong involved, you ought to be able to do a lot," one source said.