EMC Drops Mullen, Starts Search

Data Storage Firm Hires Pile and Co. to Oversee $10-15 Mil. Review
BOSTON–EMC Corp.’s split with Mullen after five years was apparently driven by high-level management changes on the client side.
The arrival a year ago of Rob Smith as director of advertising, coupled with former IBM executive Cos Santulo’s more recent appointment as EMC’s senior vice president of global marketing, sealed Mullen’s fate, according to sources.
EMC, a maker of computer storage products in Hopkinton, Mass., last week placed its $10-15 million North American ad account in play. Pile and Co., a consulting firm in Boston, is overseeing the search.
Semifinalists are expected to be chosen by month’s end; a winner will be named by June, said Pile and Co. president Skip Pile.
“EMC is an extremely difficult client to please, which is fueled by the extraordinary success they’ve had in the marketplace,” said Mullen president Joe Grimaldi, who admitted he was surprised by the client’s decision.
Citing the recent management changes at EMC, Pile said the relationship ended because “they got out of sync with each other. It’s a complicated account. No single event precipitated this.”
Some EMC executives may simply have wanted “their own shop,” said sources. EMC’s Smith did not offer a specific rationale for the dismissal.
“We like Mullen. We have a lot of good work to point to, but EMC is evolving and [we] have to take a look at our needs. It’s part of the company’s ongoing evolution. Like any relationship, you can point to a lot of wonderful experiences and some that aren’t so wonderful,” Smith said.
Wenham, Mass.-based Mullen will continue working for EMC for the next 90 days, said Smith. It will not be asked to defend the account.
EMC’s interactive agency, Think New Ideas in Stoneham, Mass., could be in line for a larger assignment. Asked whether he would consider Think for more traditional branding work, Smith said he “would not rule anybody out” at this point.
There will be no review for the international portion of the account, handled by London agencies Mediapolis and World Writers, Smith said.
Mullen brand ads themed “The EMC Effect” broke last year in magazines, on television [Adweek, Jan. 11] and across all companywide communications. It most likely will be continued in future efforts, said Smith.