Microsoft Office Shifts to JWT

In a major realignment of its agency roster, Microsoft is shifting ad chores on its Office business suite to WPP Group’s JWT, according to sources.

The Office business had been handled previously by Interpublic Group’s McCann Erickson. This marks the second major Microsoft loss for IPG of late following the software giant’s recent decision to pull its global direct marketing assignment from MRM.

The Office shift follows a pitch for a new Microsoft mobile offering won by McCann’s T.A.G. unit, said sources. JWT, McCann and fellow roster shop Crispin, Porter + Bogusky competed for that assignment, for which the client used the code-name “Pink.” (Adweek.com reported that T.A.G. won “Pink” earlier today.)

JWT, which first joined the roster about a year ago, now handles three key Microsoft assignments: “People ready,” the new Bing search engine and Office.

The shop declined to comment and referred calls to the client, which had no immediate comment.

McCann, which still handles Windows mobile efforts in addition to “Pink,” also declined to comment and referred queries to Microsoft.

Ad spending figures were not immediately available. In the U.S. alone, Microsoft typically spends more than $300 million annually, according to the Nielsen Co.

In the last 19 months, Microsoft has reached beyond its lead agency McCann for new ideas for key assignments.

In February 2008, Crispin joined the Microsoft roster, landing the $300 million Windows consumer products assignment; in July, JWT broke into Microsoft’s ranks, taking the $150 million “People Ready” business from McCann. In April of this year, JWT won creative duties on a $100 million assignment for a new search product that turned out to be Bing.

McCann competed for the previous tasks but hadn’t prevailed until the “Pink” pitch.

Separately, sources said McCann’s S.F. operations would lay off around 50 people, or 10 percent of its staff, in mid-July.

This story updates and replaces an earlier item with news of the MS Office switch.

Nielsen Business Media