The winner of the shootout between Fallon Minneapolis and incumbent JWT & Tonic here for Sun Microsystems' creative "project" will be asked to create a campaign breaking later in the fall positioning Sun as a direct competitor of software giants such as Microsoft and IBM, sources said.
The Santa Clara, Calif.-based firm, which spends $100 million globally, sent a strategic brief to the agencies saying it wants an "aggressive" ad campaign telling consumers that "they sell software and business solutions," not just computer servers, a source said. "They've said it's time for them to get some exposure. They are calling this campaign their 'coming-out party.' "
Sun launched a search earlier this summer for a shop to handle what sources termed a global branding assignment. Leagas Delaney, San Francisco, was also a contender at the time [Adweek, July 22]. The winning agency will now be asked to create the client's first new branding campaign in 18 months, sources said.
Sun's current campaign, the JWT & Tonic-created "We make the net work," is designed to convey the idea that the company's products help computer users maximize their time online. Now, however, Sun wants "to be seen as more than a box [i.e., server] company," another source said.
Sources said JWT and Fallon will make further presentations this week but have not received an exact time line.
The incumbent has lost several pieces of Sun business in recent months. Print buying and planning went in February when all of Sun's media (the balance was handled by Initiative Media) was awarded to Starcom in Chicago. A review for interactive, in which JWT & Tonic participated, was won by Beyond Interactive, San Francisco, in July.
"JWT & Tonic continues to be our agency of record," said Karen Becker, Sun director of global advertising and sponsorship. She declined further comment.
"Tonic is doing a ton of work as the agency of record that has nothing to do with [the project review]," said a source. "There's a connection there that's a leap."
JWT & Tonic won the business in September 2000, when the former Tonic 360 and J. Walter Thompson teamed up for the pitch. JWT later acquired Tonic, and the new agency has since launched two campaigns for Sun. The first, which broke in March 2001, was tagged, "Take it to the nth."