Consulting Firm in Early Stages of Agency Review

NEW YORK — Business-consulting firm Cap Gemini Ernst & Young is in the early stages of an agency search, sources said.

Both creative and media duties are in play, said sources. Although Cap Gemini is a global company (headquartered in Paris), the contest is said to be for U.S. ad duties only. Sources pegged billings at about $20 million.

The company, which has offices in New York, is not using a search consultant. One source said associate marketing director Karen Cohen is a key decision maker in the review.

Cohen confirmed that Cap Gemini has approached a handful of agencies, but downplayed the size and scope of the assignment, describing it as a project. “We’re really at the exploratory stages, talking to some agencies. The work that we’re looking at is on extending our brand awareness in the U.S.”

Cap Gemini’s ad spending in the U.S. exceeded $7 million last year and approached $4 million between January and August 2001, per CMR.

Cap Gemini, which competes with the likes of EDS and Accenture, has used D’Arcy Masius Benton & Bowles for advertising in the past.

Late last year, D’Arcy launched a global print campaign that used images such as a lightbulb to depict simple solutions borne of innovative thinking. The work, which was backed by an estimated $30 million budget, ran in more than a dozen countries.

Cap Gemini stopped advertising several months ago and the shop’s contract ended in July, according to one executive. D’Arcy is not expected to participate in the review, said sources. The agency declined comment.

D’Arcy and its media arm, Starcom, both based in New York, still handle creative and media duties, respectively, for accounting firm Ernst & Young, which spent more than $30 million in measured media last year, per CMR. The two companies operate independently.

Last year, Cap Gemini expanded its North American presence through the $11 billion acquisition of E&Y’s consulting operations. The merged entity specializes in strategy and management consulting, systems integration and software development.