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Dell's RFP: People Needing People

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When Dell confirmed earlier this month that it's reviewing global creative duties on product-specific advertising, it was seen within the industry as another ominous sign for WPP Group  and its much ballyhooed global relationship with the company. Now, the RFP, obtained exclusively by Adweek, sheds light on what the holding company would need to do to keep the relationship moving forward.

Dell's strategy: focus less on what it makes and more on whom it supplies.
 
Historically, Dell's ads to consumers, business owners and public institutions have taken a hard-sell approach, touting product features and price. Signs of the shift toward a customer POV could be seen in last year's "Take your own path" effort targeting small- and medium-size business owners.

The RFP, among other things, notes that the technology giant, which last year reported $52 billion in revenue, "aspires to become known as a provider of solutions -- not just products -- across all of its target customer segments.

Dell is evolving its brand strategy to better articulate the company purpose and values and position it for future growth."

The RFP further explains that the company would like to be seen as "delivering technology solutions that enable people everywhere to grow and thrive."

Sources described that statement as a foundation for Dell's marketing going forward.

In play is about $30 million in revenue now shared mainly by WPP's Wunderman in New York (ads for consumers, small- and medium-size businesses) and WPP's Young & Rubicam in San Francisco (public institutions). Both agencies are expected to participate.

Dell intends to hold separate pitches for each business target in review (consumer; small/medium-size businesses; public institutions) and, in the RFP, notes that it may hire more than one agency.

WPP's relationship with Dell began two years ago with the creation of a dedicated agency known as Enfatico, which devolved last year when Y&R and other units of WPP took the reins on the massive marketing services account. Total revenue across all services -- including advertising, direct marketing, digital marketing, public relations, and media planning and buying -- is around $140 million, said sources.

A key player in Dell's shift in marketing strategy is Paul-Henri Ferrand, CMO for its consumer and small/medium business segments, said sources. Ferrand-or "PH" as he's known-assumed his current role early last year after leading the Asia-Pacific South region as president.

A Frenchman, Ferrand joined the company in 2004 after four years at Nokia. He has also worked at Alcatel and AT&T. Sources said that Ferrand is among the key decision makers in the review, which began two weeks ago and won't conclude until early next year.

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