Microsoft Shifts $50m Ultimate TV Duties to Start-up Shop

11 May 2001

Software mammoth Microsoft has moved its $50 million creative and media planning duties for its digital video recorder Ultimate TV from San Francisco’s FCB Worldwide to a start-up shop in the same city titled Venables/Bell & Partners.

The new incumbent is being set up by Paul Venables and Greg Bell, both directors at Goodby Silverstein & Partners in San Francisco, along with a one-time employee at the latter shop and managing director of AKQA in New York since January Bob Molineaux.

Venables and Bell were unable to stay at Goodby, Silverstein, since the agency handles Ultimate TV’s rival TiVo. However, the duo are not leaving under a cloud – they have received office space and equipment from their former employer in return for a promise not to poach any other staff from the agency.

The dismissal of FCB has come as no surprise, with Microsoft reportedly unhappy with the shop for some time. A recent television campaign for Ultimate TV was created not by the creative incumbent but by Rodgers Townsend in St Louis, initially hired to conduct brand identity work.

The decision adds to FCB San Francisco’s woes – it has recently lost high-profile clients such as [WAMN: 08-Dec-00] and Compaq Computer, the latter account shifting to FCB New York.

News source: New York Times