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Novell's $30 Mil. Review Enters the Final Stage

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Networking-software pro vider Novell has cut the list of contenders in its estimated $30 million review, sources said.

The Orem, Utah-based client is considering Interpublic Group's Mul len, Wenham, Mass., and Hill, Holliday, Connors, Cosmopulos, Bos ton; WPP Group's J. Walter Thompson, New York; and incumbent SicolaMartin, Austin, Texas, partnering with parent company Young & Rubicam, New York, sources said.

At least one other undisclosed agency may also be in the mix, sources said.

At press time on Thursday, several of the shops had made presentations and a decision is expected early next month, sources said. It is unclear if an additional cut will be made prior to an agency selection.

Debra Bergevine, chief marketing officer at Novell, confirmed the review, but she and other Novell officials did not return calls last week.

Novell doubled its U.S. ad budget to $30 million in 2001 from $15 million just two years earlier, and is looking to move away from product-driven print campaigns to focus on a major image initiative that will include greater use of TV and radio, Bergevine has said.

It was unclear if Novell's media account, handled by OMD, is involved. Sources have said the current search is focused on creative chores.

The company is seeking a broader positioning following its acquisition last year of Cambridge Technology Partners, an e-commerce consulting and integration outfit. Toward that end, contenders were asked to present creative concepts and strategies that portray Novell as a well-rounded resource to solve users' complex technology problems, rather than simply an equipment provider, sources said.

Past Novell campaigns bore the tagline, "The power to change," but Bergevine has said that will change.

The review is also being moti vated by Novell's desire to better compete against IBM, Microsoft, Sun Microsystems and others, and reverse its dismal financial performance, which includes a loss of $273 million last year, sources said.