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Andersen puts e-commerce efforts in the spotlight

Andersen Consulting pushes its e-commerce initiative into the limelight by launching a new global ad campaign.

Andersen Consulting today pushed its e-commerce initiative into the limelight by launching a new global ad campaign.

Andersen, an $8.3 billion management and consulting firm, said its new campaign will promote a "candid" and "thought-provoking" point of view on the emerging e-business space.

The ad campaign, which will cost Andersen about $10 million over the next six months, seeks to address the fundamental issues for established corporations and start-ups as their businesses transform into the e-commerce space, said Eric Jackson, an Andersen spokesman.

Jackson added that while most firms have been touting new products and services, Andersen waited to enter the fray from an advertising standpoint because they thought it was important to have a meaningful perspective on the arena.

"While others have been spending on advertising, we think, we've been doing the work," Jackson said. "Andersen's new campaign is tackling meaningful issues and building on credibility."

Industry analysts said Andersen should be able to use its cache as a services leader to make its mark in the e-commerce area.

"Andersen has really initiated and branded the marketing issues in that [IT services] market," said Susan Scrupski-Miranda, an analyst with IT Services Advisory. "If not for Andersen, this entire category would really be in the dark ages."

Scrupski-Miranda said that Andersen has probably the "best story" in what she considers the back office area--how to actually set up e-commerce behind the scenes. The firm, she said, is well positioned to handle e-commerce strategies.

Research firm International Data Corporation has projected that the market for Internet services will grow from $7.8 billion last year to nearly $80 billion by 2003, a compound annual growth rate of nearly 60 percent.

Andersen ranked number one among all services firms targeting the Internet space in 1998, with revenue of $425 million in revenues related to interactive and online services, according to the recent IDC report. IDC ranked Andersen ahead of key industry players IBM Global Services, PricewaterhouseCoopers, and Electronic Data Systems.

IDC's research focused specifically on e-commerce, Internet, and Web site integration, and some of the related e-business areas, such as supply chain integration, according to IDC analyst Traci Gere.

Gere said she believes that Andersen's advertisement effort is a chance for the company to move forward and build its specialization into a more mature market.

"Now that Andersen has come so far in applying their sheer size in this market space, they face the challenge to brand and legitimize this position through continuing to grow their skills and capabilities in this area," said Gere. "The need for them to get out there with a branding campaign was becoming more critical. The timing on it was very good."

IT services analyst Tom Rodenhauser said that although this is a huge step for Andersen in its e-business ad-branding efforts, the firm, he claims has reinvented themselves numerous times in the past.

"Really this latest incarnation is for competition purposes," said Rodenhauser, who heads Consulting Information Services. He added that in fact, the advertising campaign is more of a "positioning" statement, a very expensive one.

"I don't think people are making any buy decisions from the ad campaign," Rodenhauser said.

Andersen ads are simple, one-sentence statements or questions, the firm said. For instance, one ad displays a cut-out of the IDC rankings accompanied by the headline, "Virtual Reality." The firm said its full campaign will be launched tomorrow on full-page ads in dailies, such as The Wall Street Journal and The New York Times as well as in several business magazines.