Dell signs WPP to create in-house umbrella agency

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Dell has teamed up with WPP Group to co-create a new global marketing and communications agency in a move to centralize these efforts to one standalone agency.

Dell will invest $4.5 billion in billings in the agency over the next three years. The new agency, dubbed Project DaVinci for its aim to combine creativity and business measurement, will be charged with running all global marketing efforts for the computer hardware and systems manufacturer.

Casey Jones, VP of global marketing at Dell, will lead Da Vinci. He initiated the effort after he joined the company eight months ago and learned that the manufacturer was using 800 agencies for various creative services.

“Our natural response was ‘This has to be inefficient' and, of course, as we looked at the work from all of the agencies, we saw some stellar work, but many of the agencies were doing the same exact job and presenting us different results,” Jones said in a video interview posted on Dell's Web site.

The agency and Dell will also co-invest in an analytics tool that will measure all marketing disciplines against each other and provide measurement for marketing initiatives against business goals.

This comes after Dell shifted its efforts from a strictly direct sales model by offering two of its computers in Wal-Mart stores at retail this past June. At that time, the computer manufacturer hired advertising agency Mother to handle its global advertising efforts and consolidated its advertising in Australia, New Zealand and Japan into Euro RSCG.

The controversial move will bring Dell's entire external marketing communications function under one profit and loss statement.

Up until this point, digital agency AKQA handled Dell's online strategy and Carat handled its pan-European media planning.

Publicis, Havas, Omnicom, and Interpublic Group all competed for the account, with Interpublic joining WPP as finalist.

According to PR Week, the agency is expected to staff thousands of people and is expected to be up and running by March 1, 2008.

Click here for a PR Week interview with Dell's VP of global marketing and communications Andy Lark. (

Click here for a PR Week interview with Casey Jones. (

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