Dell Kicks Off Creative Competition

Dell has confirmed that it is reviewing global creative duties on product-specific advertising that’s directed at consumers as well as small and medium-sized businesses and public institutions. Total revenue on the assignments exceeds $20 million, according to sources.

Select Resources International in Santa Monica, Calif., is managing the process, which Dell hopes to complete in the “winter time frame,” a client representative said.

The incumbents are WPP Group’s Wunderman in New York (ads for consumers, small and medium-sized businesses) and the San Francisco office of WPP’s Young & Rubicam (public institutions). They have been invited to participate.

“We review our vendors periodically as a best business practice,” the rep said. “This review is to ensure we are sourcing best creative to drive our businesses.”

Not in play are global corporate brand duties nor enterprise systems work — both at Y&R in New York — global media duties (at Mediacom) and global public relations duties (at Axicom). Units of WPP handle the lion’s share of Dell’s global marketing services business, though the brand still employs shops from outside the holding company, such as Mother.
All told, Dell reported almost $620 million in global ad expenditures during the 12 months ending Jan. 29, 2010, according to the company’s 10K filing with the SEC. That’s down 24 percent from $810 million in the previous year and nearly $1 billion two years ago.

Major media spending in the U.S also has declined — from more than $200 million in 2008 to nearly $135 million last year, according to Nielsen. The total in the first half of ’10 was around $30 million. Those figures don’t include online spending.

WPP scored Dell’s global business at the end of 2007, with the promise of creating a standalone agency to handle the company’s through-the-line needs. But the new agency, known as Enfatico, developed more slowly than expected and generally fell short of its promise, particularly in the creative realm.

In April 2009, Enfatico was submerged into the Young & Rubicam Brands unit of WPP, and four months later, Y&R assumed creative leadership on the business.