Novell Search May Be Scrapped

The review for the estimated $30 million advertising account of software provider Novell has ground to a halt, and a company representative last week conceded that the process could be scrapped.

“Novell’s fiscal year runs November 1-October 31, so we’re smack in the middle of our budget process for next year. I can’t tell you at this point what the outcome of those discussions will be,” said Bruce Lowry, a representative of the Orem, Utah-based client. “Nor can I predict with any real accuracy the timing of a decision—we may have this nailed down in the next couple of weeks, or it may take longer.”

Asked if the review could be scuttled, Lowry said: “Anything is possible, of course, but I don’t want to speculate.”

Four finalists—incumbent SicolaMartin in Austin, Texas, pitching with Young & Rubicam in New York; J. Walter Thompson in New York; Hill, Holliday, Connors, Cosmopulos in Boston; and Mullen in Wenham, Mass.—made presentations to the client more than six weeks ago, sources said.

Several sources expressed consternation at what one called “a flawed process. … You really don’t know at this point what they intend to do.”

Disagreements over marketing budgets and strategy between executives of the former Cambridge Technology Partners—an e-commerce consultancy Novell acquired last year—and the unit’s new ownership precipitated the delay, sources said.

Lowry would not address that issue, and Novell chief marketing officer Debra Bergevine did not return calls. The review began this summer in an effort by Bergevine to broaden Novell’s global image and portray the company as a well-rounded resource to solve complex technology problems, rather than simply as an equipment provider. The company’s budget doubled to $30 million in 2001 from the previous year, according to CMR.