3 Agencies Vying for Account

Computer-printer manufacturer Lexmark International is set to hear presentations from three agencies about its $10-15 million ad account, sources said.

Competing for the account are LB Works in Chicago, Fallon in New York and McKinney & Silver in Raleigh, N.C., sources said. It was unknown if incumbent Ocean Group in New York was participating in the review.

Shop officials either couldn’t be reached or declined comment. Calls to the Ocean Group were not returned.

The review is being led by Roger Rydell, the Lexington, Ky., company’s vp of corporate communications, and Lee Hester, who was pro moted to manager of corporate advertising and identity in March, sources said.

Rydell would not confirm an agency search, saying only that Ocean Group remained the company’s shop.

Ocean Group absorbed the account in September 2001 after Lexmark’s previous agency, Warwick Baker O’Neill, shut down. Ocean Group has no other sizable clients. The shop’s creative director and CEO, John Short, has handled the account since it landed at Warwick in 1999. A decision in the review is expected in early November, sources said.

The agencies competing have been asked for ideas on targeting small to midsize businesses with fewer than 500 employees, sources said. Lexmark’s current advertising is targeted at consumers, touting its all-in-one printer, which serves as a printer, fax machine and scanner.

Recent TV spots from Ocean Group show an art critic, businessman and teenage girl curiously examining the printer from the machine’s perspective. The tagline is, “Passion for printing ideas.”

Lexmark’s spending has been less than $10 million annually for the past five years, according to CMR. But the company’s more aggressive approach to small business could push that figure higher, sources said.

Doe Anderson in Lexington, Ky., handles in-store promotions for the company, while Optimedia in New York handles media chores. Those portions are not thought to be a part of the review.

Lexmark has been working to raise its profile. The manufacturer last month announced it would produce printers and cartridges for Dell that will carry the latter company’s name. That deal is not believed to be a part of the review, sources said.

Lexmark is the world’s No. 2 printer maker behind Hewlett-Packard Co. Other competitors are Seiko Epson Corp., Canon International and Brother International.