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Silicon Graphics Puts $40 Mil. In Play

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Computer Maker Plans Launch of 3-D 'Visual PC' Later This Year
LOS ANGELES--The maker of a planned line of personal computers has initiated a national agency search to find an agency to handle a new $40 million new account.
Silicon Graphics Inc., Mountain View, Calif., has contacted at least 10 agencies nationwide about handling creative and media duties for its planned line of "Visual PCs," said Michael Mace, marketing director for the Visual PC division, established about a year ago.
The computer company will pick several finalists from the long list and select the winning shop in about two months, said Mace. Consultant Michael Markman, a former executive with Apple Computer, is assisting in the search, which is being overseen by Maryanne McGregor, marketing communications manager for the division.
The search does not affect SGI's estimated $20 million corporate account, currently handled by CKS Partners, Cupertino, Calif., said Mace. CKS has been invited to pitch the new unit, he added.
Sources said SGI is planning to spend $40 million on advertising to support its PC push. Mace would only say that ad budgets will be comparable with "other PC companies."
SGI is best known for its graphics technology. Its systems are used, for example, to create the special effects in many movies. While the company is still keeping details of the product under wraps, sources said it will launch during the second half of 1998 and will make SGI's advanced 3-D graphics technology PC compatible. The product will be based on Windows NT software--SGI and Microsoft, once fierce rivals, last month announced an alliance to work together.
The Visual PC "will take Silicon Graphics into a very different market," said Mace. "So we want to evaluate who will be the best partner."
Sources said a successful move into the PC market could go a long way toward boosting the $4 billion company's financial results.
The new product line will be marketed to creative and technical users in the Macintosh, PC and Workstation markets, and will run all standard Windows programs, according to SGI executives. The product "will take all of Silicon Graphics' strengths and make them available to PC users for the first time," said Mace.