Exclusive: Dell and the 90-day Deal

By Matt Van Hoven 

Sources within Austin based Enfatico confirm that the WPP PLC agency has been given 90 days to get things going in a positive direction for Dell Inc. We’ve learned that Y&R CEO Peter Stringham visited the Austin office yesterday to update staff there on this situation, stating that the agency is to focus on nothing but Dell Inc. for the next 90 days. The phrase “double down” has been used.

Sources offer varying opinions as to what this means for the agency. A few spies indicate that after hearing Stringham’s talk, their notions are that the shop is now on probation. One said that the probationary period was the only way Enfatico could prevent Dell Inc. from leaving. That has not been repeated by others.


Another source took a different tone on the matter, stating that Stringham is merely using the next 90 days to “right the ship” &#151 not to say it’s off course (but Dell is very unhappy, we’re told, hence all this hullabaloo).

Stringham has, for the last week or so, been giving this speech to all the Enfatico offices, either in person (in New York, Austin) or via teleconference. Seemingly, his goal has been to inspire the troops, though my sources have interpreted that message as a negative one despite his posturing. Some feel that they have 90 days to get it right or they may lose the client. And then what?

Let me be clear; each of my sources have said in no uncertain terms that the client, Dell, is not happy with Enfatico’s work to date. Interestingly, Y&R seems to be committed to the Enfatico model despite the fact that that may be exactly what is preventing the agency from providing the kind of work Dell needs &#151 or wants, anyway.

The last time we spoke with Dell, a representative there said of allegations that the company is unhappy with Enfatico, “As we’ve said previously, Dell and Enfatico have ongoing dialogue on how best to meet Dell’s broad marketing needs.”

We contacted Dell this morning, but they did not respond by press time.

In a company-wide e-mail (to Enfatico) yesterday, Stringham had mostly positive things to say to the year-old start-up. The Y&R CEO said he met with Enfatico’s top brass to discuss the agency’s absorption into the Y&R brand. He explained how his agency works, using independent agencies etc, and reconfirmed that Enfatico will be around for a long time. Stringham is apparently committed to the Enfatico model which makes little so no sense at all considering, as we said, it hasn’t worked yet and so far it seems to be nothing more that hyperbole.

The meaning of this news is certainly up for interpretation, so if you have any information that can help clear it up for the hundreds of Enfatico employees who are certainly feeling skiddish regarding these talks, please e-mail matt at mediabistro dot com, anonymously tip us or IM/tweet me at agencyspy.

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