Microsoft Launches Media Agency Review

Microsoft has launched a media agency review for its U.S. assignment.

The incumbent is Interpublic’s Universal McCann, which has handled the account for more than a decade, in tandem with sister creative agency McCann Erickson.

The client spent about $345 million on measured media through November of 2010 and about $420 million in 2009, according to Nielsen. Those figures exclude digital expenditures.

The relationship has had its ups and downs. When Nick Brien, now the head of McCann Worldgroup, first joined IPG six years ago as global CEO of UM, he spent a lot of time in Redwood, Calif., repairing ties.

On the creative side, McCann Erickson’s lead agency status on Microsoft has waned as the marketer has increasingly dispersed business to other shops in recent years. Most notably, Crisper Porter + Bogusky won the Windows account in 2008.

It was not immediately clear which agencies would compete for the media business, although sources indicate that WPP’s GroupM is already in hot pursuit.

A UM representative didn’t return a call seeking comment, and Microsoft officials couldn’t immediately be reached.