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September 3, 2008 at 12:02 PM

Seattle ad firm that handled Vista launch being bought by Publicis


Dancers scale the wall of a New York building to promote the launch of the long-awaited Vista operating system from Microsoft on Monday, Jan. 29, 2007 in New York. PBJS, the Seattle advertising firm that coordinated the launch events, was acquired by Publicis Groupe. (Update, Friday, 10:09 a.m.: To clarify, the particular stunt depicted here was not done by PBJS. It was Maloney & Fox, a Waggener Edstrom company.)

Paris-based advertising giant Publicis Groupe has acquired a Seattle advertising firm, PBJS, which handled launch events for Windows Vista.

Bob Bejan, co-founder and CEO of PBJS, said his firm began looking for a major advertising holding company to partner with last October. It closed the deal with Publicis, the fourth-largest in the world, six weeks ago and made it public today. Financial terms were not disclosed.

Bejan worked at Microsoft from 1996 to 2002 and was the founding executive producer of the Microsoft Network. Another PBJS co-founder, Jenny Pigott, is also a Microsoft veteran.

PBJS stands for both the founders’ initials and “peanut butter and jelly sandwich,” Bejan said. That’s an allusion to their goal of producing ideas that stick. The firm has focused on live, engaging events. As someone who has attended several (see list below) I would say that they’ve succeeded in making software product launches much more entertaining than they otherwise might be.

The firm has handled some of the biggest external and internal Microsoft events, including the launch of Office 2007; the January 2007 Vista launch in New York City that featured rock band Angels and Airways and an acrobatic stunt on the Port Authority Building; the company’s 10,000-person global sales meeting; the Microsoft Visitors Center; and events surrounding the transition of Microsoft Chairman Bill Gates.

“We’ve been very fortunate to have a long and fruitful relationship with Microsoft, one of our very first clients,” Bejan said.

Publicis has done some limited work with Microsoft in the past, he said. The addition of PBJS will provide additional opportunities for Publicis agencies to work with Microsoft, Bejan said. “I think this is a nice add for them,” he said.

Other PBJS clients include: Boys and Girls Clubs of America; Sephora; Seattle Public Library; Seattle Symphony; Smart Balanced Foods and AT&T Cellular.

Publicis’ other major holding in Seattle is Publicis in the West, which counts among its major clients T-Mobile USA and Hewlett-Packard.

Bejan said he hopes to grow his 30-person firm as a result of the acquisition and access to the Publicis network.

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