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Lewis Lazare follows Chicago media and marketing news

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It may be one of the most protracted contract negotiations in the history of advertising, but CDW, the Vernon Hills-based computer reseller, finally sealed the deal Tuesday -- naming Ogilvy/North America as its agency of record. Interestingly, the appointment press release says Ogilvy/Chicago will be lead shop on the account, but other Ogilvy shops, most notably flagship Ogilvy/New York, will work on the business as well. That suggests CDW wasn't exactly comfortable putting all its eggs in the Ogilvy/Chicago basket -- given its shaky track record in recent years. Not that Ogilvy/New York, or Ogilvy in general, has much to crow about either.

One thing should be stressed about this win. While it will provide welcome revenue for Ogilvy, CDW will not be a showcase account that demands breakthrough creative. So don't look for it to help elevate Chicago's slumping image as a place that produces great advertising.

After we first broke the news that Ogilvy was likely to land the account, months passed before the deal was finalized, as the agency and CDW dickered and dickered -- and then dickered some more -- over the nuts and bolts of the contract. From what we hear, CDW was anxious to ensure that they got what they needed from Ogilvy for the lowest possible dollar amount. Call it nickel-and-diming by CDW. Or just prudent business practice.

But this is the way it goes now in the advertising world, where countless agencies have so devalued their images and their services that they can be forced to do whatever a potential new client wants. And aren't just about all American agencies absolutely starved for new business? You bet.

CDW to Ogilvy/Chicago?

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Is Ogilvy/Chicago about to get CDW, the Vernon Hills-based computer parts reseller? Though it seemingly has taken forever to name a winner in the account review that is believed to have been narrowed to Ogilvy and the Martin Agency in Richmond, Va., sources say it now may be just a matter of ironing out the last details of a contract between client and new agency of record. Word is that the CDW business will involve a lot of below-the-line work, which means the account may actually be a good fit with the Ogilvy operation here in Chicago, which is pretty well staffed in that department. And though it's merely circumstantial evidence at best, we've been told Ogilvy/Chicago Chief Creative Officer Joe Sciarrotta has seemed pretty chipper in recent days. We doubt it's the water that's causing the upbeat mood. Maybe it's something called CDW?

Sources say Vernon Hills-based CDW, the computer supplies reseller, has narrowed its search for a new ad agency to two finalists: the Martin Agency in Richmond, Va., and Ogilvy & Mather/Chicago -- two agencies that are vastly different in size and public profile. Martin, of course, is famously known as the shop that won the huge WalMart account from DraftFCB/Chicago, which had the business for just a few weeks. O&M has seen various pieces of business come and then go over the past several years, including Quiznos, Kraft Foods' Oscar Mayer unit and, of course, a large chunk of Sears business. O&M/Chicago remains best known for its recent "real beauty" work on the Dove beauty brand.

Gone from the CDW review, it appears, is DDB/Chicago, which had been pushing hard, we were informed, to remain in the running for business. No indication of when CDW will announce a winner.

When it comes to prevailing in new business pitches, DDB/Chicago doesn't have much to show for its efforts of late -- having lost out in a bid for the Radio Shack account that agency insiders, we're told, were confident was winnable. The fact that DDB has no chief creative officer may have had something to do with its failure to nab Radio Shack. Or it just may be that the shop's pitch didn't resonate with the intended audience.

But whatever the case, DDB now appears to have learned how to play hardball to stay in the running for new business as long as possible. DDB is one of several shops still believed to be contending for the CDW ad account, which has been quietly in review. Vernon Hills-based CDW is a reseller of computer hardware and related supplies. Sources say that when it became apparent that DDB was about to be eliminated from the review, DDB parent Omnicom Group, which just happens to be a CDW customer of some size, ever so subtly dropped hints it might have to rethink vendors for its computer supplies.

Needless to say, the hints were heard. DDB has remained in the review, we're told. Sources now say a decision on which agency will win the CDW account is expected shortly.



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Lewis Lazare has written the Media Mix column for the Chicago Sun-Times for the past seven and a half years.

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