NEW YORK (AdAge.com) -- AT&T has chosen Butler Shine Stern & Partners to lead a much-needed makeover of its online local-search platform YellowPages.com, according to executives familiar with the situation. The Sausalito, Calif.-based shop replaces GSD&M Idea City as lead creative agency on the account, which could be worth up to $50 million in billings.
The pitch launched in February with a field of four hotshot creative shops: Crispin Porter & Bogusky; Venables Bell & Partners; Mother, New York; and Butler Shine. Austin, Texas-based Idea City was invited to defend, but declined, and is said to retain a small portion of direct-response TV creative work for the YellowPages brand. AT&T's lead media agency, WPP's Mediaedge:cia, isn't part of the review, which was managed by New York-based consultant Source Martin.
The brief was a doozy: rebrand and launch YellowPages.com this summer and make it a major player in local search. To do that, AT&T asked agencies to present a plan to boost the site's functionality and give it a personality that would persuade consumers to go there over places like Google and Yahoo Local.
As the pitch progressed, Crispin and Venables were said to have pulled out of the process, leaving the final round last month to a shootout between indie agencies Mother and Butler Shine.
AT&T ranks as the third largest national advertiser, according to Ad Age's DataCenter, with an ad budget of more than $3 billion. For the past few years, it has devoted about $25 million a year to YellowPages.com and is expected to double the figure going forward.
The company didn't return a request for comment before deadline, while agency representatives either referred calls to AT&T or couldn't be reached. Representatives for Source Martin couldn't be immediately reached either.
The pitch was led in part by new AT&T marketer Esther Lee, who joined the wireless provider in June 2009 after stints at Euro RSCG North America and Coca-Cola. Ms. Lee hasn't wasted time making her mark at the company; she recently ushered in a new brand campaign for AT&T dubbed "Rethink Possible" that put an end to the attack campaign it had been running against Verizon Wireless.