Dropping RPA, WebTV Puts Account in Play

Internet television provider WebTV is ending its three-year relationship with Rubin Postaer and Associates, and has cast a net to catch a large shop for its estimated $50 million account, according to sources.
The review comes as Marty Lafferty is settling in as vice president of marketing at the Palo Alto, Calif.-based client. Lafferty recently replaced Chip Herman, who retired.
Select Resources International, Los Angeles, has been tapped to handle the review, sources said.
RPA and SRI executives referred calls to the client. WebTV representative David Patchen denied a search is under way. “Rubin Postaer remains our agency of record,” he said. “We’re happy with the work they’ve done. We expect to work with them for years to come.”
SRI president Mike Agate, who conducted WebTV’s 1996 review, won by RPA, referred calls to the client.
Patchen declined to comment on whether SRI had been enlisted or for what purpose. “We use a lot of different creative suppliers for brochures, infomercials and direct marketing,” he said. “We also use creative resources from our partners, Sony and Philips. We’re always looking for people with new creative ideas.”
Requests for proposals have gone out to about 25 agencies, and are due back to SRI this Friday, said sources. The client is said to be looking for an agency with approximately $150 million in billings, they added. It was unclear at press time whether the search was limited to the West Coast or would include shops nationwide.
WebTV spent $18 million on advertising in 1998, according to Competitive Media Reporting. RPA’s most recent campaign included humorous, celebrity-laden TV spots addressing the service’s advantages, such as advanced e-mail capabilities and picture-in-picture viewing.
Web TV is a wholly owned subsidiary of Microsoft, which acquired it in 1997. Its service has more than 600,000 subscribers.