Erwin Penland Snags Major Microsoft Business

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Erwin Penland got one of the biggest wins in its existence when it helped its parent company group become Microsoft Corporation’s agency of record for retail business.

Microsoft’s multibillion-dollar ad and media business chose Interpublic Group (IPG) – of which Erwin Penland parent Hill Holiday is a part – to handle its advertising and global deployment to 207 countries. The total account revenue is estimated at around $100 million.

“It’s one of those once-in-a-decade kinds of pieces that you win,” said Joe Saracino, chief marketing officer of the Greenville-based advertising and marketing firm..

Members of the Greenville team were part of the high-level pitch process, including recent additions Con Williamson, chief creative officer, and John Dunleavy, managing director. Both hailed from global advertising agency Saatchi & Saatchi. Erwin Penland President Joe Erwin said the Microsoft business validates the shop’s investment in major talent.

The Erwin Penland team toasts the news of the agency's deal with Microsoft.
The Erwin Penland team toasts the news of the agency’s deal with Microsoft.

Precisely what it means for Erwin Penland will be hammered out in contracts over the next few weeks, “but we do know it means important staffing opportunities in our Greenville and New York offices, and we’re going for top-level talent,” said Erwin. Account management, strategic planning and translation are just some of the duties for which IPG will be responsible.

“It’s funny. I think we’re all admiring the speed at which Microsoft has moved through the process,” Saracino said. “They really essentially put their entire agency business up for review globally. That includes brands like Windows, Xbox, Surface and Nokia.”

Erwin said the Microsoft windfall differs somewhat from the relationship with another big-name client, Verizon.

“The Verizon account grew organically. We won MetroMobile, which was precedent to what would become Verizon,” he said. “[Microsoft], I would say, is the biggest pitch victory for us in many years.”

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