Cisco Set to Look at 10 Agencies

Ten agencies will be invited to participate in the review for Cisco Systems’ global ad account, the client confirmed. The incumbent, Hill, Holliday, is choosing not to defend it.

RFPs will be sent out this week. “We are looking at full-service agencies with global presence and proven results in integrated marketing,” said Jere King, vp of worldwide marketing communications at the Internet networking company. “It’s a new market environment, and we’re open to new ideas.”

The search is expected to focus on agencies in Northern California, where the client is based. A decision is due by the end of May.

King said Hill, Holliday in San Francisco, which has handled the account for the last decade, would be invited to participate in the pitch. But the agency said it will decline.

“We’ve had a long and happy relationship with Cisco,” said Eric Fehrnstrom, a Hill, Holliday spokes man. “They are now going through a period of organizational change, and we think it’s best for both parties if we go our separate ways.”

In August, Cisco announced several organizational changes, including the appointment of James Richardson as chief marketing officer, responsible for technology and corporate marketing efforts.

Cisco, which is based in San Jose, Calif., reported overall media expenditures of $59 million in 2000 and $38 million through the first 10 months of 2001, according to CMR. A budget for the account in review was not disclosed.

Sources said Cisco had been considering reviewing its options for some time, but that an unfavorable cover story on the company in the Jan. 21 issue of BusinessWeek may have prompted the renewed effort to find a new shop.

Kirshenbaum Bond & Partners West in San Francisco is the lead agency on Cisco’s interactive business. Sources said the interactive business is not expected to be affected by the review.