Sid Lee wins chunk of Dell advertising account

Sid Lee has added to its global brand portfolio by winning a big piece of Dell’s advertising business.

Sid Lee has added to its global brand portfolio by winning a big piece of Dell’s advertising business.

The agency, which handles most of Adidas’ creative business worldwide, will be responsible for all consumer advertising for the Austin, Texas-based computer giant.

Aside from Sid Lee, Dell confirmed Monday that it has hired Minneapolis-based Barrie D’Rozario Murphy for its public business—work for state and local government, health care and educational clients—and Arnold, based in Boston, for small and mid-size business work.

Published reports say the three accounts total $30 million in revenue.

Dell spokeman Bob Kaufman said Young & Rubicam will remain “global brand agency of record,” for Dell, characterizing the three new shops as adding “bench strength” to what Y&R has already done. However, he confirmed Sid Lee will now produce all mass advertising and communications targeting consumers.

“This is a big deal for us,” said Vito Piazza, general manager of the agency’s Toronto office. “Our engagement officially started [Monday], so we’ll be spending a lot of time meeting with them in the next few weeks.”

With Y&R handling “central brand strategy,” Sid Lee will execute across all consumer touch points. “We are not there to change the brand, we are just there to bring it to life for the consumer,” explained Piazza.

Dell has been a difficult brand to market cohesively. Following its rise from dorm-room start-up to global computer giant, it was at one point working with more than 860 individual agencies around the globe on a region-by-region basis. In a bold gamble, it partnered with WPP, which spent $4.5 billion to open Enfatico in 2007 as a global operation dedicated to Dell and Dell alone.

After a year in business together, industry commentators and bloggers were wondering where to find the results of such a large investment. Visible campaigns were few; only the “Nomads” work seemed to break the surface, targeting mobile, out-of-office-type executives.

By late 2009, Enfatico had laid off most of its officer class, the agency was shuttered and WPP boss Martin Sorrell was on the record saying the experiment “went wrong.” Sorrell did eek out a victory, however, when the account was moved to Y&R and, thus, stayed in the network.

“Dell is in a bit of a transformation as a company, evolving its product and services as more of a technology services provider,” said Kaufman. Along with that evolution, Dell introduced a new brand platform: The Power to do More.

“The new agencies that were selected will help us bring to light The Power to do More as it relates to the customer segments,” he said, adding that partnering with three new shops will provide the “flexibility to meet some unique needs of our individual businesses.”

Piazza said the work will be divided between Sid Lee’s Montreal and Toronto offices for now, though the agency views the win as an opportunity to really grow its Toronto office, which opened in September.

Piazza said Sid Lee will anoint a creative lead on the account and has already picked much of the team that will handle the business, though the win will likely mean Sid Lee will be hiring in Toronto.

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The WPP agency wins after a three-month, North America-wide review