Agencies battle for IT business

With just over a month until one of the world’s leading IT exhibitions, regional PR agencies have gone on a feeding frenzy as IT firms play musical chairs with their communication budgets.

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By  Tim Addington Published  August 21, 2005

With just over a month until one of the world’s leading IT exhibitions, regional PR agencies have gone on a feeding frenzy as IT firms play musical chairs with their communication budgets. The summer months — normally a quiet period for PR outfits — have seen a raft of agency hires, fires and pitches, as IT vendors finalise their PR plans ahead of the Gulf Information and Technology Exhibition (Gitex), which takes place in Dubai next month. Campaign Middle East has learnt that more than six IT companies are on the lookout for, or have recently picked, new agencies, including international giants SAP and Toshiba. Wallis Marketing Consultants (WMC), which has a large portfolio of technology clients, has seen several changes to its roster. “With the amount of money IT companies spend on Gitex, they want to ensure that they are maximising their PR return on investment,” said Eileen Wallis, client services director at WMC. SAP is on the verge of appointing both a PR and marketing agency after receiving pitches from ten agencies. The company, which specialises in business management software, previously worked with Milestones Marketing Communications, but has kept a relatively low profile in the region. “We are looking for tier one agencies that have the expertise and regional reach to represent us,” said Peter Kwisthout, marketing and channel manager at SAP Middle East. “SAP is moving aggressively into the mid-market and we require support to help us communicate that.” Meanwhile, it is understood that Japanese consumer electronics manufacturer Toshiba, whose account is currently managed by Euro RSCG, is also on the lookout for a new PR agency. The account, for its notebook range of PCs is up for grabs, with at least one major Dubai PR agency already pitching for the business. When asked to confirm if Toshiba is looking to change its PR representation, Ahmed Khalil, general manager at Toshiba Middle East and Africa, said: “At the moment we are still with Euro RSCG, I have no further comment.” Networking vendor 3Com, which was represented by WMC for over a year, has parted company with the agency after the Porter Novelli group was awarded the account for EMEA following a regional review. In its place, WMC has picked up IP telephony specialist Avaya, which canned incumbent Asda’a, as well as securing Online Distribution, which dumped its previous agency Market Buzz. It has also started working with Abu Dhabi-based systems integrators ITQAN. WMC will also shortly be losing storage software company Veritas after it was bought out by IT security firm Symantec. WMC was unable to retain the Veritas/Symantec account due to a conflict of interest with its existing IT security client Trend Micro. While RSA, another IT security company, has appointed Market Buzz on a project basis after it recently opened a regional office in Dubai. Gitex runs from 25 to 29 September at the Dubai World Trade Centre.

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