Initiative’s Sun Win Boosts Lowe

Initiative Media North America’s win of Sun Micro systems’ $100 million-plus global media account last week also helped Lowe Lintas & Partners.

To avoid a conflict, an estimated $40-50 million in Dell Computer buying duties formerly at Initiative was moved to Lowe, a sister Interpublic Group shop. Both accounts will be handled by the agencies’ New York offices.

Executives from The Lowe Group and Interpublic helped engineer the shift, which takes some of the bite out of Lowe’s loss of creative and media duties on Sun to the team of J. Walter Thompson and Tonic 360 last year.

The Sun victory is especially sweet for Initiative, stung late last year when longtime client Unilever consolidated media at WPP’s MindShare unit. Initiative has handled Sun’s media business outside the U.S. since 1998.

“They came to us and said, ‘We would like you to duplicate what you do for us internationally in the U.S.,’ ” said Lou Schultz, Initiative Media Worldwide chairman and CEO. “The only way we could do this is if we could make this work for Dell, too. We were able to accommodate both and that was great.”

“Initiative has been doing an awesome job for us,” said Karen Becker, director of global advertising and sponsorship at Sun in Palo Alto, Calif. “When we resigned Lowe, we had to go into review. Initiative was able to showcase how they could apply the same smart thinking to our U.S. account.”

The various machinations were kicked off in November after JWT/Tonic 360’s Sun victory. MindShare, which would have taken media responsibilities, faced a conflict: Ogilvy & Mather, another of its WPP sisters, is IBM’s agency.

So Sun invited Initiative to pitch its U.S. business. Sun also heard presentations from WPP’s second media network, The Media Edge, and other undisclosed shops, said sources.

The win brings Laurence Patry, Initiative’s international account director on Sun, from Paris to New York to join Larry Orell, general manager of Initiative New York, who will oversee the U.S. program for the client.

Dell, based in Round Rock, Texas, spent about $115 million in measured media through the first nine months of 2000, according to Competitive Media Reporting. Corporate image duties are handled by Omnicom Group’s BBDO Worldwide unit. In the same period, Sun spent about $40 million.