SAS Appoints Howard

Software supplier SAS Institute has selected Howard, Merrell & Partners as its first ad agency.
The nearly $1 billion company, which specializes in business-to-business software, had handled advertising in-house.
“We want to strengthen the brand and increase our viability in the executive suite,” said Betty Fried, director of communications at SAS. “[HM&P] are branding specialists [who] we feel are kindred spirits.”
“SAS has all the hallmarks of being a being a really powerful global brand,” said Mac Merrell, HM&P chief executive officer. “You talk to anybody in analytics and they’ll tell you SAS has the best there is.”
Billings were undisclosed, but a source projected a $20 million budget.
That figure includes media duties, which Fried said would continue to be handled internally, with the Raleigh, N.C., shop consulting. She said the Cary, N.C.-based SAS will retain its 20-person in-house staff.
Fried said when weeding out five first-round agencies to two finalists, a displayed willingness to work with the client’s ad unit was crucial. “It was very obvious that some were much more comfortable with that than others,” she said.
“This is not about replacing one [ad team] with another but to add to [the client’s] capability,” Merrell said. “Their creative people will be involved in literature and collateral, but we will handle the branding.”
A representative of Long Haymes Carr said the Winston-Salem, N.C., agency was the other finalist.
HM&P’s initial advertising is expected to break early next year.