Microsoft switches ad-agency horses for key piece of its $1 billion budget

Microsoft periodically switches ad agencies for various parts of its business. The latest switch was announced on March 18, with Publicis Group's Starcom MediaVest unit winning a substantial percentage (according to reports) of Microsoft's North American media-buying dollars.

Microsoft periodically switches ad agencies for various parts of its business. The latest switch was announced on March 18, with Publicis Group's Starcom MediaVest unit winning a substantial percentage (according to reports) of Microsoft's North American media-buying dollars.

Microsoft officials confirmed in January that the company was shopping around the part of its ad spending that was handled by Interpublic Group of Cos.' Universal McCann. The estimate of the value of the contract was $1 billion.

The Wall Street journal said on March 18 that IPG's Universal McCann and Mediabrands groups would hold onto Microsoft's ad-buying business in 35 countries outside North America.

"IPG had previously handled Microsoft's entire global media account—currently around $1 billion in spending — and has worked with the company for more than 12 years," the Journal said.

In the summer of 2010, Microsoft made an agency switch, awarding its cloud-computing campaign to Interpublic from WPP's JWT. Interpublic (via its Agency 215 unit) also has been handling Microsoft's Xbox creative ad campaign.

Today's win by Starcom isn't for the creative campaign side of the business; it is for media planning and buying. Microsoft is not disclosing the dollar value of the contract awarded today. (Reuters said it was for "the lion's share.") A Microsoft spokesperson sent me the following:

“We have completed our media agency review and have awarded our global media strategy and planning business to Starcom Mediavest Group (SMG). We look forward to partnering with SMG to drive exciting and engaging ways to deliver creative content to our customers in today’s dynamic media marketplace. Universal McCann remains a valuable part of our agency roster and will continue to manage our media planning and buying outside of North America.”

Interpublic's McCann had been Microsoft's primary ad agency for years. Recently, the Softies have been moving more of its accounts to other agencies.

Starcom has a number of high-profile clients for which it does advertising, including Allstate, Coca-Cola, General Motors, Kraft Foods and Walt Disney Co.