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Dell’s Project Da Vinci agency hires new staff

Project Da Vinci, Dell’s global agency formed last December through an exclusive $4.5 billion partnership with WPP in a move to consolidate its advertising efforts, has hired three new staff members to its Austin office. Ken Segall will serve as executive creative director, Valerie Hausladen will serve as the new general manager of Project Da Vinci’s Austin office and Kelly McGinniss will head public relations.

Ken Segall has been marketing computers for more than 20 years, having worked on IBM campaigns and creative for Apple Computers since 1984, including working on the “Think Different” slogan created for Apple Computer in 1997 at ChiatDay.

Valerie Hausladen is the founder/CEO of Edge Communication Group, which provides marketing and management consulting services. According to her Web site, she helped Dell with its search for a new lead advertising agency, which resulted in the selection of WPP for the three-year, $4.5 billion account. Hausladen has also served in marketing and PR for the nonprofit Miracle Foundation and has served on the board of the American Red Cross of Central Texas and the marketing committee for the People’s Community Clinic.

Kelly McGinniss, a former partner at Fleishman-Hillard, will be running the PR office out of San Francisco where about 70-100 people will work, according to PRWeek. Other members of Da Vinci’s PR team will be based in Austin, New York and Miami.

According to a job posting on Indeed.com, the Austin office will house more than 200 employees.

In December 2007, Dell said it would invest $4.5 billion in billings in Project Da Vinci over the next three years. Casey Jones, VP of global marketing at Dell, leads Da Vinci. Jones initiated the effort to combine creativity and business measurement after he joined the company eight months ago and learned that the manufacturer was using 800 agencies for various creative services. He wanted to bring the entire external marketing communications function under one profit and loss statement.

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

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

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

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