5 Shops Reach Finals in Global HP Review

Most have ties to HP marketing exec Keshin

In Hewlett-Packard’s global creative review for its personal computing division, it apparently helps to know Eric Keshin.

Four of the five finalists for the business—twofifteenmccann, The Martin Agency, Grey and DDB—have past ties to Keshin, a former top executive at McCann Worldgroup who now leads marketing for the division. The other finalist, BBDO, is already an HP roster shop, handling corporate image and printing and imaging assignments. Global media spending on business in play is estimated at $120 million.

Before HP, Keshin was worldwide COO of Worldgroup, the largest operating unit of Interpublic Group. Among the IPG shops that the group oversees is Martin. As such, Martin CEO John Adams would have interacted with Keshin.

Keshin’s connections with Grey and DDB run deeper. Grey global CEO Jim Heekin was among his superiors at Worldgroup between 2001 and 2003, when Heekin was CEO of the group and Keshin was general manager of McCann New York. Finally, DDB Chicago CEO Peter McGuinness ran global accounts at McCann during the period that Keshin oversaw New York and North America.

Of course, past connections only get you so far. Marketers ultimately hire agencies based on several factors, including strategic thinking, creative execution, relevant experience and cost. Also, Keshin obviously is not the sole decision maker.

The five finalists emerged this week from a broader field of agencies that HP considered. Twofifteenmccann (the San Francisco office of McCann Erickson) has handled the business since HP split with Goodby, Silverstein & Partners last year. HP executives are briefing the shops today and tomorrow at the company’s headquarters in Palo Alto, Calif.

Boston-based consultancy Pile + Co. is managing the process. Pile did not return messages and HP had no immediate comment. HP plans to select an agency next month.