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Samsung appoints WPP Group to $700m global account

LONDON - Samsung this afternoon confirmed that it had appointed WPP Group to its $700m (£377m) global advertising account, after a drawn-out review process that began seven months ago.

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In a statement, Samsung Electronics said it had appointed WPP agencies to provide ongoing support for its core global brand marketing programmes in strategic markets around the world.

It said that the appointment called for several companies within the WPP group to carry out long-term assignments for Samsung in various marketing areas, including advertising, market research, and media planning and buying.

Samsung confirmed that J Walter Thompson would run the account out of its New York-based global group. Berlin Cameron/Red Cell will serve as the lead creative agency on the account.

Media planning and buying is being overseen by Group M. Market research will come from Research International and design and branding input form Landor Associates.

Samsung's Korean in-house ad agency, Cheil Communications, will also continue on the account, working closely with the other agencies.

To win the much-sought-after advertising prize, WPP beat Publicis Groupe to the business in the final stages of the review, after an initial pitch list that included incumbent Foote Cone & Belding, which is part of the Interpublic Group.

Reports also say that the company will set up Team Samsung internally to look after the work. Simon Bolton, chief executive of JWT in London, is being tipped as a possibility to lead the team. Similarly, WPP has established Team Vodafone to run the mobile phone giant's business globally.

Speculation that WPP had won the pitch have been swirling around the industry for the last three weeks, but executives at WPP had not been told anything formally by Samsung.

It is understood that WPP chief executive Sir Martin Sorrell, who personally led the company's effort to win the account, was growing frustrated at the amount of time it was taking for a decision to be made.

At one stage in the last few weeks, it was suggested that there would be no decision until January.

Part of the reason it has taken so long was the departure of Eric Kim, Samsung's head of global marketing, in the middle of the process to Intel. His successor, Gregory Lee, formally takes up his new job in January.

The Samsung victory would top off a stellar year for WPP, which has picked up work including HSBC's $600m global account and the €1bn (£680m) pan-European media buying account for Unilever, which went to MindShare.

News of the review out of FCB was first revealed in February this year. The agency created the strapline "DigitAll: everyone's invited" for the company, but it was reported that Samsung felt the agency had "failed to crack the brief". The account is worked on by 59 FCB offices across the globe.

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