Microsoft Corp. is consolidating its customer relationship management account -- worth an estimated $400 million -- with Young & Rubicam's Wunderman and McCann-Erickson Worldwide's MRM Partners, according to executives close to the account.
The software giant had previously worked with a myriad of smaller shops on the account, which also includes business-to-business advertising. Microsoft is expected to announce the news later today. The bulk of Microsoft's advertising is handled by the San Francisco office of McCann-Erickson, which is part of Interpublic Group of Cos.
John Kahan, general manager of Microsoft's Corporate CRM Group, said marketer's CRM business had been spread among "thousands" of small shops globally.
"We decided to align with two of the best agencies worldwide with world-class skills," he said.
Mr. Kahan declined to discuss spending on the account, or how the business would be split between the agencies, saying only the work would be split "equally." He said assignments would be aligned by business groups, with Wunderman handling the Windows operating system, and MRM handling Microsoft's office product line.
Microsoft's decision follows the news that rival IBM was moving its entire global direct-marketing account out of Wunderman and placing into WPP Group sibling OgilvyOne. (Ogilvy & Mather, New York, is IBM's general market agency.) The shift was agreed in advance of the eye-popping Microsoft win.
According to a source close to the IBM account, the move was made without the knowledge of the Wunderman team in order to preserve any possibility of conflicts.
Mr. Kahan declined to discuss whether Wunderman was forced to part with IBM. "Our clear goal was to get the best skills on our business," he said.