Clearwire Shifts $25 Million Account to DDB Los Angeles

'Wi-Max' Networking Company Has Upcoming IPO, Eyes Expansion

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SAN FRANCISCO (AdAge.com) -- Wi-Max networking company Clearwire has hired Omnicom Group's DDB, Los Angeles, as its agency following a review.
Clearwire now offers its Wi-Max service in a dozen states to 35 markets, most of them small to midsize metropolitan areas.
Clearwire now offers its Wi-Max service in a dozen states to 35 markets, most of them small to midsize metropolitan areas.

Ads on dry-cleaning bags
Spending on the account was expected to grow to more than $25 million, said an executive familiar with the situation. Other contenders included the Los Angeles offices of M&C Saatchi and independent shop Richards Group, Dallas. The incumbent, St. John & Partners, Jacksonville, Fla., launched the wireless broadband internet service using a variety of local tactics such as neighborhood-specific newspaper ads and ads on dry-cleaning bags.

None of the agencies could be reached at press time. Russel Wohlwerth, a partner in A-Team Advertising Advisors, who headed the search, declined to comment.

Clearwire, based in Kirkland, Wash., outside Seattle, is the latest project of Craig McCaw, whose McCaw Cellular was purchased by AT&T and became the original AT&T Wireless. Launched in 2003, Clearwire previously raised more than $1 billion from investors including Intel and Motorola. An upcoming IPO is expected to raise an additional $400 million.

Just this week, Clearwire purchased $300 million worth of wireless spectrum licensed to or leased by BellSouth. Government regulators required AT&T to sell the spectrum as a requirement for approval of its $86 billion acquisition of BellSouth.

Focuses on smaller markets
Clearwire now offers its Wi-Max service in a dozen states to 35 markets, most of them small to midsize metropolitan areas such as Chico, Calif., and Anchorage, Alaska. It also offers service in Ireland, Belgium, Denmark and Mexico.

While Wi-Fi service is offered in limited areas, such as T-Mobile's service at coffee shops, Wi-Max offers high-speed internet service over larger areas and allows for inexpensive phone connections as well.

In its filing with the SEC for its IPO, Clearwire said it expects to use proceeds for market and network expansion. Clearwire has about 200,000 subscribers. It said, however, that its market has 9.5 million potential customers in the U.S. and Europe.