ROUND ROCK, Texas: Was teetering computer entrepreneur Michael Dell inspired by the final verse of Stephen Sondheim's all-time classic, Send in the Clowns, when herding adland's top five performers - Omnicom, WPP, Interpublic, Publicis and Havas - into the same circus ring?

Having dangled Dell Computer's $760 million (€555.47m; £374.22m) global ad account under the noses of the five main agency holding companies, some participants sense an uneasy resonance with Sondheim's classic lines.

    Isn't it rich?
    Isn't it queer,
    Losing my timing this late
    In my career?
    And where are the clowns?
    There ought to be clowns.
    Well, maybe next year.
Each of the quintet has reportedly spawned special marketing-services teams in the hope of consolidating the account within their networks.

The current agency review is led by Dell's recently appointed vp marketing Casey Jones, whose job spec has interesting parallels with his legendary train-driving namesake.

Currently working on the Dell business are Omnicom's DDB Chicago, BBDO New York and media sibling Prometheus; plus Interpublic's MRM and independent shop Mother New York.

Data sourced from; additional content by WARC staff