Another tidbit: it seems the agency’s PR team has been released into the wild. At least, the two contacts we had are no longer there and we’ve been forced to go through the ever-vigilant Young & Rubicam crew, which makes as much sense as a full-service agency with one client.
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Today AdAge reports on what’s up with former Enfatico CEO Torrence Boone, whose departure from the agency was first reported by George Parker on AdScam. Boone’s taken a spot at Google as their managing director-agency development.
Parker was clear on the departure, stating, “Torrence Boone is toast after they promoted him to CHAIRMAN, in charge of ‘special projects.’ That lasted all of one month, and then they just bounced him out altogether. Gone. Fucking gone! And no one has a clue where he went.” However until today, it was unknown where he’d land.
The AdScam editor went on to call Boone unemployable due to the failed Enfatico experiment.
Part of Enfatico’s demise was due to its inability to land new clients. Despite purporting to be a one client agency, soon after its creation Dell contracted business, cutting off many planned marketing initiatives. An aside to the story is that Enfatico basically pillaged the Austin advertising community from shops like T3, GSD&M and others in order to build up “the agency of the future”. The most pressing question today is where those people will end up should the shop fold. It’s already under Y&R’s control, and Enfatico PR was just folded into Axicom, a subsidiary of Cohn & Wolfe — another WPP entity.
During an interview with Forbes India, WPP’s Martin Sorrell was asked a number of questions about Enfatico and why it didn’t work. His responses were pretty finger-pointy, especially when he was asked about the one-off agency’s demise:
Q: Why didn’t Enfatico work then?
Sorrell: Because it’s an extremely difficult thing to do. And the two prime movers behind it left Dell.
The two prime movers are of course former Dell CMO Mark Jarvis and Casey Jones, Dell’s vp of global marketing.
Before directing the failure to the now long-gone Jarvis and Jones, Sorrell was asked “What went wrong?”
“The prime movers of the Enfatico experiment, the Dell CMO [chief marketing officer, Mark Jarvis] and Casey Jones [Dell's V-P of Global Marketing] who reported to him, both left Dell. So a lot of the impetus from those two obviously went with them. On the other hand, Erin Nelson, Dell’s current CMO, and others certainly saw the benefits from a dedicated agency. The concept itself, which is an agency tailored to the needs of a specific client, I think is still very relevant and in fact is going to become more relevant. And what clients want is the best resources working on their business, so if you can either from your existing resources or new resources fashion an agency that responds to their specific needs… I mean just think about it logically — it would be better to design an organisation for a client from scratch than to give them something from off the shelf.”
Well in Dell’s case exactly the opposite seems to be true. Y&R swooped in to reorganize, leaving CEO Torrence Boone in charge of day-to-day operations, but with creative prowess in Y&R’s hands. Boone cited “capability gaps” as part of the agency’s problem, which is not unexpected given the large task placed on his unformed agency’s shoulders. Clearly, an off-the-shelf agency with its feet firmly planted would have been better than the sapling-like Enfatico — no matter how driven they were to succeed.
It was about a year ago (July 29, 2008 to be exact) that we realized the months old Enfatico hadn’t done anything for Dell. Well, a lot has happened since then, with Y&R taking over and all.
So the 90-day deal Y&R CEO Peter Stringham put in place is coming to and end once July runs out. But in the meantime, Mother NY (one of the agencies that worked on Dell ebfore Enfatico came along) has done some work (above) for the client, Dell. When Enfatico first picked up the business, they told Mother NY to keep a lid on the fact that they (Enfatico) weren’t doing any TV work. Not anymore. The piece above was sent right to us. Nothing much to it, but it’s a noteworthy change, albeit minute.
When asked about the change, Mother NY said, “Mother continues to support Dell in many areas of its business including creative work, design and experiential marketing.” Cool, but you were supposed to be done last December, so…
We’ve been looking into what will happen now that Enfatico is getting taken over by Y&R. Rumor has it that the digital work will stay with Schematic, and Y&R will have to fight for the print and broadcast work. But fight who? Enfatico has a 3 year contract for the business.
Also it’s been about 30 days since we told you about Y&R’s 90-day plan to get things up and running for the client, Dell. Since then, Della has come and gone, and not much else has happened. 60 days to get it done, guys.
Update: We’re hearing Dell hasn’t made any requests for Schematic to take on the digital work, and since Schematic is a part of WPP, we’re not convinced it really matters.
Sources within Austin based Enfatico confirm that the WPP PLC agency has been given 90 days to get things going in a positive direction for Dell Inc. We’ve learned that Y&R CEO Peter Stringham visited the Austin office yesterday to update staff there on this situation, stating that the agency is to focus on nothing but Dell Inc. for the next 90 days. The phrase “double down” has been used.
Sources offer varying opinions as to what this means for the agency. A few spies indicate that after hearing Stringham’s talk, their notions are that the shop is now on probation. One said that the probationary period was the only way Enfatico could prevent Dell Inc. from leaving. That has not been repeated by others.
Another source took a different tone on the matter, stating that Stringham is merely using the next 90 days to “right the ship” — not to say it’s off course (but Dell is very unhappy, we’re told, hence all this hullabaloo).
Stringham has, for the last week or so, been giving this speech to all the Enfatico offices, either in person (in New York, Austin) or via teleconference. Seemingly, his goal has been to inspire the troops, though my sources have interpreted that message as a negative one despite his posturing. Some feel that they have 90 days to get it right or they may lose the client. And then what?
Let me be clear; each of my sources have said in no uncertain terms that the client, Dell, is not happy with Enfatico’s work to date. Interestingly, Y&R seems to be committed to the Enfatico model despite the fact that that may be exactly what is preventing the agency from providing the kind of work Dell needs — or wants, anyway.
The last time we spoke with Dell, a representative there said of allegations that the company is unhappy with Enfatico, “As we’ve said previously, Dell and Enfatico have ongoing dialogue on how best to meet Dell’s broad marketing needs.”
We contacted Dell this morning, but they did not respond by press time.
In a company-wide e-mail (to Enfatico) yesterday, Stringham had mostly positive things to say to the year-old start-up. The Y&R CEO said he met with Enfatico’s top brass to discuss the agency’s absorption into the Y&R brand. He explained how his agency works, using independent agencies etc, and reconfirmed that Enfatico will be around for a long time. Stringham is apparently committed to the Enfatico model which makes little so no sense at all considering, as we said, it hasn’t worked yet and so far it seems to be nothing more that hyperbole.
Today’s Enfactico story alleges that the company may either to broke or to incompetent to purchase a website in a timely fashion for their client Dell. From the AdAge story with the headline, “Enfatico Didn’t Want to Fork Over Funds for Website?”:
“…the Dell agency refused to pony up $750 a month to lease Adamo.com — the most obvious domain for Dell’s new ultrathin laptop computer, launched recently to rival Apple’s MacBook Air. Luckily for consumers, that decision didn’t stick once Dell founder and CEO Michael Dell caught wind of the situation; the domain was eventually bought, and now users can reach it via Adamo.com and Adamobydell.com.”
MSNBC has picked this up as have other outlets. And guess what – for all of us who work in advertising? We know it’s total bollocks. Why?
1. Agencies very, very rarely get to just go ahead and purchase URLs for clients who generally, demand all sorts of approvals before anything is ever done. We don’t have carte blanche like AdAge is implying. It’s possible that Dell stalled on Enfactico’s request and/or just decided not to purchase it. Anyone who has worked in an agency knows this is very possible. AdAge is wrongly assigning blame to Enfactico and yes, I’m defending them. I can’t believe it either, but right is right and this assumption is wrong.
2. The brand isn’t actually called Adamo. It’s called Adamo by Dell, so why would they even be interested in Adamo? Often, brands purchase similar URLS for their product and have it redirect users to the main client site. We all know this, as well. Dell already owns Adamobydell.com. What it sounds like is that the company was unsure as whether to fork over $750 for a like-minded URL.
Just to update you on the situation, as it stands the merger of Enfatico and Y&R is set to take place immediately. But what will that mean for employees in the agency’s largest office in Austin, the new office in Mangattan etc? Here’s what we know, according to sources familiar with the situation:
— As stated, effective immediately, Y&R will absorb Enfatico.
— We have confirmed that Enfatico has won its second piece of business (the first being Dell), Bedford, Mass.-based Progress Software.
— The “worker bees” will likely not lost their jobs, but we can expect some high-level reorganzation.
— Torrence Boone will continue on in some role with the Y&R brand. Details on what he will be doing have not yet been floated.
— In an internal memo, Boone cited, “capability gaps” in Enfatico’s design.
— The idea to fold Enfatico into Y&R was Enfatico’s idea.
— Y&R helped during the initial transition period when the agency opened just over a year ago.
— Though it’s too early to speculate about the fate of the Manhattan office Enfatico leased for the next 10 years, we imagine their legal team is working a deal to get out of that ASAP.
What’s important here is that the agency appears to have its employees in mind regarding this transition. The probability that some small portion of the staff will be let go is high, but as we stated previously they are likely to be higher-level folks.