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Software Supplier Hires Ethnic Agencies

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DALLAS Microsoft has hired Lopez Negrete to handle its Hispanic creative duties and Interpublic Group's GlobalHue to produce African American advertising, the client said.

Sources estimated both accounts to be separately worth $1-2 million, though client manager of diversity marketing and communications Gayle Cruise said that figure is low. She did not elaborate.

Microsoft's hiring of Lopez Negrete had been expected [Adweek Online, June 25].

Cruise said a total of 12 agencies gave creative presentations. WPP-backed Uniworld Group in New York has created African American and Hispanic advertising for Microsoft in the past, but it is unclear whether the shop defended.

Cruise said Microsoft launched the review because "we decided in fiscal year '04 that we wanted to have tighter integration working with [IPG general market agency] McCann-Erickson and we wanted two separate agencies with a deeper knowledge of each of the targets."

Houston-based Lopez Negrete and GlobalHue's Miami office are charged with generating awareness around "the importance of and benefits of technology" to African American and Hispanic small business owners, Cruise said. The initial campaigns will break in August and will likely involve print and Internet components, she added.

Microsoft will handle media for the minority accounts in-house, Cruise said.

Microsoft spent $300 million on advertising last year, according to TNS Media Intelligence/CMR. IPG's McCann-Erickson handles general-market media.