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HP Reaches Out to Holding Companies

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NEW YORK Hewlett-Packard has reached out to five advertising holding companies in its global review of creative and media duties for its Technology Solutions Group, sources said.

Sources identified the holding companies as Omnicom Group, Interpublic Group, WPP Group, Publicis Groupe and Havas. Except for Havas, each has agencies that work for TSG around the world.

Indeed, the division is said to employ some 2,000 shops worldwide and a consolidation to fewer agencies under a single holding company is the primary objective of the review. HP believes it can operate more efficiently, achieve better consistency across disciplines and reduce the cost of TSG advertising in such a consolidation, according to sources.

The assignment includes traditional advertising, direct response, search-engine marketing, interactive initiatives and media duties.

Sources estimated total revenue on the business in excess of $100 million.

Ark Advisors in Playa del Rey, Calif., is said to be managing the search. That consultancy did not return calls.

In a statement, an HP representative said the "goal behind this move is to have the holding company act as an integrator for all TSG marketing campaigns, facilitating consistency across marketing vehicles and disciplines."

The rep added that the "operational change is not due to a lack of satisfaction with TSG 's current agencies. We are taking this approach to leverage our scale. Agencies that currently work with TSG will be invited to participate in their respective holding companies' solution proposals. The consolidation will begin in calendar year 2009."

TSG supplies servers, software for managing Internet technology and consulting services. As such, the global ad assignment is a business-to-business play.

Agencies that handle TSG in different parts of the world include: Omnicom's Goodby, Silverstein & Partners; Publicis Groupe's Publicis; WPP's Wunderman; IPG's DraftFCB; and Publicis' Zenith Optimedia, which handles media duties across HP's four divisions. (The other divisions are the Personal Systems Group, Imaging and Printing and Electronic Data Systems, which HP acquired this year.)

The participating holding companies have received requests for proposals that are due back at the Palo Alto, Calif.-based client in mid-November, said sources. The RFP seeks not only basic credentials information but also examples of relevant experience, including how the holding company or its agencies have handled consolidated accounts in the past.

HP is leaving it up to each holding company to propose how it would manage the multi-disciplined global account, according to sources. Some may put forth agency networks with partners, while others may propose a holding company-led solution. Based on submissions, HP is expected to cut to a shorter list of contenders. The company hopes to complete the review early in the first quarter of next year.