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Microsoft Plays the Agency Field

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MRM had already been losing ground: Last December, for instance, DDB Seattle, a Microsoft agency of more than 10 years, won the review for Microsoft Office Live Small Business review, in which MRM was the incumbent. For the DDB office, which counts Microsoft as it largest client, the win was the fourth piece of Microsoft business picked up last year.

Sources said Microsoft's move away from reliance on McCann Worldgroup is being driven from the top of the company. According to agency sources, Kevin Turner, Microsoft's chief operating officer who joined the company in August 2005, is not a proponent of a single agency partner and has pushed for bringing in other shops.  "He does not believe in monogamy, he wants a stable of agencies. He comes from more of a procurement background," and wants that competitive edge in agency compensation, said a source. Turner came to Microsoft after 20 years at Walmart, where he was chief information officer and most recently CEO of Sam's Club.

While Worldgroup's influence may be lessening at Microsoft, Troberman said "McCann is still very much a core agency for us." She added that the agency handles a lot of work that is less visible-like b-to-b-but that "is incredibly important to us".

Troberman, who was previously Microsoft global gm, branded entertainment and has more than 13 years at the company, said, "There's been a significant amount of change over the past year and we're seeing results business by business, audience by audience." -with Andrew McMains