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JWT Hangs In to Win

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NEW YORK The Microsoft global business solutions review that JWT won two weeks ago was quick: roughly a month from start to finish. But JWT New York had worked hard to stay in front of Microsoft marketing execs after losing a previous review seven months before.

There were ongoing conversations between December and May, and then, during the week of May 19, JWT co-presidents Rosemarie Ryan and Ty Montague traveled to Seattle to attend Microsoft's annual Strategic Account Summit. It was a few weeks later that Microsoft once again reached out beyond lead creative agency McCann Erickson -- this time on its Enterprise Solutions business -- and WPP Group's JWT was among the agencies the company called.

Sources said that Microsoft also talked to Publicis Groupe's Fallon about the business, but in the end, the choice came down to JWT and Interpublic Group's McCann. JWT's first work is expected to break in the third quarter and will be backed by an estimated $150 million to $200 million in major media spending, said sources.

The win came seven months after JWT was cut from the earlier review for a global consumer-oriented assignment. MDC Partners' Crispin Porter + Bogusky won that contest -- using the line, "Windows, not walls," according to sources -- besting Fallon in the final round.

Unlike Crispin's assignment -- which was new -- JWT's gain is McCann's loss. Still, McCann and sister shops like Universal McCann and MRM remain global players on the client's roster. As one source put it, "JWT is in the door. That's what's interesting. And [the addition of new agencies is] not going to stop necessarily."

Sources said that Fallon could be in line for a consumer assignment, though nothing appeared imminent last week. Microsoft's wanderlust stems not only from a desire to raise the caliber of its work, but also changes in its marketing ranks, with some execs assuming new roles, sources said. In a statement revealing the JWT hire on July 3, the company said: "In this rapidly changing media and business climate, Microsoft is committed to remaining agile and partnering with a range of media and marketing leaders to deliver results."

JWT's New York office will steer the account -- one of the most significant since Ryan joined the agency in January 2004. "It is a transformational brand -- a brand that has transformed how people live and work, and we look forward to partnering with them to carry that legacy forward," Ryan said.

Other key players in JWT's pitch included director-in-charge Beth Waxman, executive creative director Walt Connelly and Robin Bardolia, co-head of strategic planning. Sources said that Connelly, who was a global ecd on Microsoft at McCann in San Francisco before he moved to JWT, helped introduce Montague and Ryan to Microsoft last year.