Adobe Plans U.S. Advertising Agency Review

Software giant Adobe is considering some big changes in its domestic advertising, announcing a search for a new U.S. advertising agency to handle its $20 million account.

The effort comes as Adobe is attempting to rebrand itself around what it terms “network publishing” — a concept of printing and sharing documents that sees content created once and disseminated across multiple platforms.

“The first generation … was desktop publishing,” said Adobe brand marketing director Peter Isaacson. “Then, in the 90s, we had Web publishing. Now, we have network publishing, that is really all about visually rich, personalized content … anywhere, anytime, on any device.”

According to Isaacson, Adobe’s market position in the current “generation” of Web content — it’s one of the largest software companies in the U.S., with product lines that include publishing mainstays like Acrobat, Photoshop and Illustrator — naturally indicates that it’s going to be a player in the future of communication.

“We’re at the threshold of a new publishing business,” Isaacson said. “Adobe is going to be one of the drivers of the next wave of publishing, and we’re going to be developing the strategies and the creative ideas that help drive that business for us. The new agency will position Adobe as the leader in the next generation of publishing.”

Adobe has other things to contend with besides network publishing, however. The company is also coming out of an ugly PR brush with free speech activists and opponents of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act, stemming from Adobe’s role in the jailing of Russian programmer Dmitry Sklyarov.

Earlier this year, the company complained to federal authorities that Sklyarov had written a program that allowed for the cracking of its eBook file format — which, according to the company, violated the DMCA. Sklyarov’s arrest last month at a hacker convention in Las Vegas spurned outcry from groups like the Electronic Freedom Foundation against Adobe and the DMCA — and this issue will no doubt be taken into consideration by the new appointment.

Spokespeople did not disclose the names of all of the agencies under consideration, but confirmed in the review is WPP Group-owned Young & Rubicam, whose San Francisco office currently handles the account.

The account action is the first in four years for Adobe, which in 1997 centralized its global advertising with a few large players: Y&R in the U.S. and Europe (through Y&R Geneva) and Dentsu in Japan.

This time, Adobe said no changes would be made to its international advertising agency appointments.

“One thing we’re not looking for is a worldwide infrastucructure,” Isaacson said. “Four years ago, we centralized our advertising and marketing, looking for a global agency with ready-to-go infrastructure — develop creative ideas centrally, execute globally.

“This time, we have own infrastructure, and a centrally driven organization, and we want to go after agencies that don’t necessarily have a global infrastructure in place, but that have great strategic and creative resources,” he added.

To wit, Isaacson said the company is including some of the smaller West Coast shops in its requests for proposals.

Adobe, which brought in Select Resources International to oversee the review, said it expects to name its new agency by October.

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