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EDS hires consumer marketing guru

The consulting giant enlists former Coca-Cola marketing chief Sergio Zyman to help remake the company's image and put a new spin on its overall brand.

Giant IT consultant Electronic Data Systems confirmed Tuesday that it has hired marketing expert Sergio Zyman to help remake the company's image and put a new spin on its overall brand.

Zyman, the former marketing chief at Coca-Cola, and his Atlanta-based company, Zyman Group, will be charged with helping EDS rebound from a tumultuous year that included layoffs, a probe by the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) and turnover at the company's highest executive levels. In March, the EDS' board of directors replaced Chief Executive Richard Brown with Michael Jordan, a former chief executive at CBS.

Most recently, EDS took a public shot to the chin when rival consultant Cap Gemini Ernst & Young beat it out for a $5.2 billion contract to manage the IT infrastructure of the United Kingdom's tax authority, Inland Revenue. That loss caused investment analysts to for EDS, which currently derives about 2 percent of its revenue--more than $400 million--from a soon-to-expire contract with the U.K. government's tax agency.

Although EDS, based in Plano, Texas, was tight-lipped about the specifics of its plans to work with Zyman, company representatives did say the company would work specifically on branding efforts.

EDS said it had not worked directly with Zyman in the past, but there is an established relationship between Zyman and Jordan, who also worked in the soft-drink industry for PepsiCo, along with the beverage company's former chairman, Roger Enrico, a current board member at EDS.

Zyman Group representatives would not say whether EDS, which had 2002 revenue of $21.5 billion, is the company's largest technology-oriented customer to date, and they indicated that the company currently does work for a number of Fortune 500 businesses. However, a Zyman representative said the company believes the IT consulting industry bears considerable opportunity for growth in the public eye, despite the fact that the marketing company will not be directly involved in creating advertising campaigns for EDS.

The company's founder believes the strategies that drove his success at Coca-Cola can be applied to any industry, even sectors like IT consulting and outsourcing that are outside the consumer-products realm.