Troubled Toshiba Eyes 25 Shops

Unable to Sell Through, Bozell Declines to Defend $30 Mil. Account
LOS ANGELES-The worldwide leader in laptop computer sales has launched a review for its estimated $30 million account.
Toshiba America’s computer systems division has sent questionnaires to roughly 25 large and midsized shops nationwide, according to sources. Incumbent Bozell Worldwide, Irvine, Calif., declined an invitation to defend.
“We’ve decided not to pursue the their business due to their lack of desire to forge the kind of partnership we have with all our other clients, and our inability to sell through the kind of breakthrough work the Toshiba brand deserves,” said Jim Harrington, general manager of Bozell in Irvine.
Bonnie Poe, director of marketing for the Irvine, Calif.-based company, confirmed the review, but declined to comment further. Poe will oversee the agency search, said sources.
Bozell has handled the computer systems account since October 1997, when Bozell acquired Toshiba agency Poppe Tyson. Poppe was folded into Bozell as Bozell Worldwide Technology Group, headed by managing partner Debbie Yount. Yount left the shop in February this year and joined Grey, New York, as executive vice president, account management, overseeing integrated marketing for Sprint.
Bozell’s New York office had previously handled the client’s corporate advertising, but that relationship ended last year when Toshiba moved its U.S. corporate advertising in-house.
Agency sources describe Toshiba as a difficult but profitable client. The company has been fighting to maintain its position as the leading worldwide laptop computer manufacturer against such competitors as Compaq, but has been plagued by management turmoil, service problems and an overall lack of efficiency, according to industry reports.
While the review will include shops from around the country, sources said the winner will be expected to have a Southern California presence.
Toshiba spent almost $28 million on advertising for its computer services division in 1998, down 31 percent from the previous year, per Competitive Media Reporting.
Separately, Toshiba has named Hampel/Stefanides, New York, as its online creative and media agency. The agency replaces The Internet Exchange, Newport Beach, Calif. Billings were undisclosed.
Toshiba America is a subsidiary of Tokyo, Japan-based Toshiba. U.S. divisions include Toshiba America Medical Systems, Toshiba America Electronic Components and Toshiba America Consumer Products. ƒ