Rift May Keep Zenith Data Systems From Renewing Tatham Contract

CHICAGO – Tatham Euro RSCG’s association with its French partners helped nabbed the $9-million Zenith Data Systems account in 1991, and now it looks like it may be the only thing keeping the two together.
A spokesperson from ZDS said that Tatham’s contract is up, but the company has not yet decided whether to review the business. But more than one source said a rift between the two parties based on money, and a new marketing team at the client, has thrown the account into jeopardy. New ZDS director of marketing communications Linda Hayes, who had been with Motorola’s computer division, is said to favor dumping Tatham.
But ZDS parent Group Bull based in France, apparently wants ZDS to keep Tatham as its agency in the U.S. Tatham won the business in 1991 partially based on its ties to Eurocom, which had recently merged with Tatham parent RSCG.
Before that, ZDS had used Foote, Cone & Belding subsidiary FCB/Direct.
It is the latest twist in what has turned out to be a somewhat rocky relationship between Tatham and Zenith. ZDS has been plagued with operational problems which has affected its advertising. Hayes is part of the fourth marketing team Tatham has worked with since winning the business in 1991.
Insiders claim that Tatham officials have also considered dumping ZDS. The Group Bull subsidiary has ‘been extremely slow to pay its bill,’ according to one source, and the agency hasn’t been paid for the last three months of work.
Tatham officials would not comment. Hayes could not be reached on Friday. Either way, it looks as though the agency and company are stuck with each other at least for the time being. ‘(Hayes) wants her own agency in there, but Group Bull wants one worldwide agency resource,’ said a source. ‘No one knows what’s going to happen.’
Zenith products Corp. sold the data systems division to Group Bull in 1990. Euro RSCG is Group Bull’s agency in Europe and in 1991, the company decided it wanted to put its computer businesses all under one agency roof.
Copyright Adweek L.P. (1993)