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Wunderman Will Ramp Up Staff for IBM Account

Wunderman plans to hire as many as 150 people to service the recently consolidated IBM Corp. account.

“I think we're creating a new agency within an agency,” said Barry Kessel, Wunderman's newly appointed executive vice president and global account director in charge of the IBM account out of the New York office. “IBM would like to have a strong team in place by the close of the year, and that's what we're shooting for right now.”

The move comes two months after IBM dropped Brann Worldwide from its roster of shops, limited ibm.com work to four interactive shops and consolidated its direct and interactive business with Wunderman and OgilvyOne Worldwide, both WPP Group PLC agencies.

A key goal of the IBM account, which includes direct and interactive marketing, is to drive demand generation. The agency is expected to get prospects to raise their hands and generate leads for products such as computers, mainframes, PCs, services and software.

“The particular challenge facing IBM is really getting all the tremendous assets that they have and focusing them on the customer so that they can become a customer-focused company,” Kessel said. “When companies get as large as IBM, it's very easy to get focused on your product or your sales experience. We want the phone to ring. We want visits to the IBM Web site. We want to generate leads for the sales force when face-to-face sales is required.”

The account is the second largest at Wunderman behind Ford Motor Co., which is serviced by nearly 400 Wunderman executives worldwide. The third largest Wunderman account is AT&T Corp., which has a dedicated team of more than 100.

Though billings for the direct business were not disclosed, IBM is known to spend $600 million on its annual media buy. Interactive accounts for 7 percent of that.

The positions looking to be filled are across the board, including account executives, account directors, copywriters, creative directors and a creative chief. In addition, Wunderman wants to develop a media team as well as seek out interactive marketing executives with specialty on insights and strategy.

“Clearly, we're looking for people who have some technology focus, who have worked with technology companies,” said Bill Manfredi, executive vice president and head of global human resources at Wunderman. “We're also looking for a real sense of teamwork. One of the key themes we want to get across is Team IBM.”

Candidates can post their resumes at Wunderman's Web site, www.wunderman.com.

While Wunderman is looking to hire, Brann is looking to fire. The agency has served notice to 75 employees of its Wilton, CT, office, who will continue to service the IBM account till mid-December.

“We did inform the staff that if the current business situation continued through the end of the year, there would be layoffs in 60 days,” said Andrea Franklin, executive vice president and chief strategy officer at Brann. “This is directly related to the conclusion of our work for IBM. We knew when IBM consolidated their roster that we would not be needing that staff beyond our contract. It is possible that we'll extend some of their employment if there is work to support it.”

Though most agencies are shedding jobs, Wunderman's hiring effort comes on the heels of a similar recruiting drive at Grey Healthcare Group.

The recent winner of the Celebrex arthritic drug account from Pharmacia Corp. and Pfizer Inc., Grey Healthcare's New York office is looking to fill positions such as vice president/account supervisors, account supervisors, junior account executives, editor, proofreader, copywriters and art directors.

In its Phase V division that handles medical education, the agency is looking for an account supervisor and a junior account executive. Its Grey IMSI arm in Stamford, CT, needs a managing editor, editor, account supervisor, junior account executive and information technology network support specialist.

Grey Healthcare is offering a $2,500 reward to employees for each successful recommendation.

Wunderman also is offering a bounty of $2,500 to $5,000 for employee referrals, and is looking to fill positions mostly in its New York office. Overseas, it will service the accounts alongside IBM offices in Britain, France, Germany, Italy, Australia and Japan. The agency will work first on hiring domestically and then overseas.

Under Wunderman chairman/CEO Daniel Morel's watch, the agency is putting a strong emphasis on training and career development. This will extend to staffers on the IBM account.

Another initiative is exchange programs, in which executives swap places across the Wunderman network worldwide to offer cross-border marketing expertise.

Last year, Wunderman reported billings of $3.3 billion. It has 4,000 employees on its rolls worldwide.

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