Toshiba Computer Systems Group, the notebook unit of the Japanese electronics colossus, has fired its incumbent of two-years DGWB and put its $20-$30 million creative and media business up for grabs. Howard Emerson, new vp of marketing communications, seeks an agency able to “relate to our marketing direction”.

DGWB was philosophic: “The people we had originally worked with [at Toshiba] left. Couple that with the hits the industry has been taking, and this might be seen as inevitable.”

Meantime, a Korean auto group announced a similar move.

Hyundai Motor Company and Kia Motors Corporation and their respective US subsidiaries are evaluating the benefits of consolidating buying in the US market to achieve savings from economies of scale and to identify other potential benefits,” pronounced Hyundai director of communications Chris Hosford. Between them, the companies have a US media spend of $400 million-plus.

There are three contenders, two of which handle competing business elsewhere in the globe. Although independent shop Horizon Media has no other car account on its roster, CIA Medianetwork handles Lincoln-Mercury and Jaguar in the US and significant DaimlerChrysler business overseas.

And while Carat's stateside operation lacks an auto account, its parent group Aegis handles several competing brands in other countries, including Fiat, Renault, BMW and Nissan.

According to insiders at Hyundai/Kia, the group is conscious of the specter “of [account] conflict no matter where you go”. “The search may or may not [eventually] involve other parts of the world; it is not clear that global consolidation would be a benefit,” said an executive.

A decision is expected with a week.

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