Asda’a must fight for MS

Software giant invites PR pitches for four regions as incumbent agency disappoints.

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By  Tim Addington Published  May 22, 2005

Microsoft is to invite local PR firms to pitch for its business as it searches for an agency capable of generating new ideas. Incumbent Asda’a, which has held the account for four years, will be invited to bid when the tender takes place later this year. Microsoft regions up for grabs include the North Gulf, South Gulf, Eastern Mediterranean and KSA. Bahaa Issa, corporate comms manager at Microsoft Middle East, said that although no date had been set for the pitches yet, the software giant wanted to review Asda’a’s performance. “I am looking to review the current representation. We are looking to pitch out the account for four of our regions,” said Issa. “I want to evaluate the strengths in servicing and the spread across the region. One of the areas I want to examine is how many people are servicing the account. I am looking for an agency that dedicates resources to Microsoft,” he added. Issa said Asda’a had not been dropped as Microsoft’s PR agency, and would be invited to re-pitch, along with two other agencies. “Asda’a are aware of this and they are very supportive,” he added. But Sunil John, managing director at Asda’a, said he was not aware of Microsoft’s plans to review its PR representation. However, he added that the agency would accept its invitation to re-tender. “I haven’t received any information. The client hasn’t told us anything so far,” he said. “We have been with Microsoft for the last four years, it’s the client’s call. It is normal for companies to go for a review, and we have a long relationship with them.” The decision by Microsoft to review its representation comes soon after the departure of Iman Ghorayeb from Asda’a to rival Impact Porter Novelli. Ghorayeb, a former account director at Asda’a, played a lead role on the Microsoft account and is widely credited with helping build the vendor’s brand in markets across the Middle East. “Agencies are about people. It is about how much they are willing to recruit people and train people,” said Issa.

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