MOUNTAIN VIEW—In the mid 80s, Silicon Graphics was one of the highest-flying companies in the North American technology industry, a darling of the entertainment industry in particular, its advanced graphics computers used to generate some of Hollywood’s most spectacular special effects. But somehow, Silicon Graphics (SGI) lost its focus, and its image was severely tarnished. Now it is turning to international technology specialist Text 100 to restore some the luster.

Text 100 International, headquartered in London but with seven offices in the U.S., beat out Fleishman-Hillard and Cambridge-based FitzGerald Communications for the seven-figure SGI account and will be charged with helping director of worldwide public relations Richard Marshall turn around the company’s image in the U.S.

While there was no agency of record prior to the selection of Text 100, SGI had worked with Weber Public Relations Worldwide on several projects. Text 100 was selected in part “because we would be an important part of their business as they are growing here in the U.S.,” said Marshall, who said the three finalists for the business were “very strong, very different agencies.”

Marshall, who joined SGI from Subaru about six months ago, was appointed not for his high-tech industry expertise, but because of his role in helping change perceptions of the Japanese automaker.

“We had been through a turnaround at Subaru and I saw a lot of similarities between the situation there and the challenges facing this company,” says Marshall. “It was an opportunity to try some of the same things in a different industry.”

Two years ago, SGI named insider Robert Bishop as CEO—its third in three years—sold off some under performing assets and centralized operations, reducing headcount by about 25 percent in the process. It also rolled out new products designed to return SGI to its position as the world’s leading supplier of high-performance computing and visualization solutions.

“This is a company that was one of the darlings of Wall Street and that lost its focus,” says Marshall. “It lost sight of where it fit in the market. But there’s a new management team in place, led by people who understand what made this company great, and there has been a return to our core competency.” In particular, he said, SGI is now focusing on several key vertical markets, including the entertainment industry—the three movies nominates for special effects Oscars all used SGI equipment—and the scientific and medical research community.

Text 100 will help with product publicity, corporation positioning, and communications in key niche markets. And while the assignment is initially focused on the U.S. market, Marshall indicated that he would be reviewing the company’s international communications over the coming months.
Marina del Ray consultant Jerry Swerling managed the agency search.