Avaya Meets With 6 Agencies

BOSTON–Six shops met last week with communications-systems provider Avaya, which plans to name two finalists in a review for its global account by the end of this month, said Deirdre Robinson, Avaya director of advertising.

The client is considering Cordiant Communications’ Bates Technology Group in Atlanta, Omnicom shops DDB and Doremus and Interpublic Group’s McCann-Erickson, all in New York, as well as Havas’ Arnold in Boston, and IPG’s Mullen in Wenham, Mass., sources said. Robinson declined to confirm the contenders. Agency executives declined comment or could not be reached. Consultancy Combustion in New York is overseeing the search.

Incumbent Foote, Cone & Belding in San Francisco has worked with Avaya since May 2000, creating and placing ads tagged, “Communication without boundaries.” The advertiser provides software and services that integrate voice and data to businesses and government clients.

Robinson said FCB will not retain creative, but its New York office and IPG sister shop Initiative Media are contenders for media planning and buying, respectively. FCB executives were unavailable for comment.
Credentials were presented at last week’s meetings at Avaya’s Basking Ridge, N.J., headquarters. Shops were told they would receive more information this week on how the review will proceed.

“As the market evolved, we are looking forward to adding help from an agency that has experience specifically talking to the technology target,” rather than overall image-building, which was FCB’s focus, Robinson said. Avaya saw its 2001 sales decline nearly 11 percent to $6.8 billion from the previous year. The company lost $352 million in 2001.

Avaya spent about $10 million on ads in 2001, but has already spent that much so far in 2002, according to CMR. Contenders have been told the budget will be approximately $30 million in 2003. A winner will be chosen in early October, Robinson said.