With Incumbents Gone, Three Left in Sprint Review

A Week After TBWA Drops, Riney Withdraws From Agency Search

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SAN FRANCISCO (AdAge.com) -- Sprint Nextel was able to narrow its search for an agency to handle its $1.6 billion marketing account after one of its incumbents, Publicis & Hal Riney, San Francisco, dropped out of the review.
Sprint and Nextel merged two years ago.
Sprint and Nextel merged two years ago.

Down to three
The marketer is now focusing on three shops: Omnicom Group's Goodby, Silverstein & Partners, San Francisco, and WPP Group's Ogilvy & Mather and Y&R, both New York, a Sprint spokeswoman said today.

Publicis & Hal Riney earlier in the day issued a statement saying it had dropped out of the pitch. The agency cited "requirements going forward" and new wins for its decision to quit the review.

Sprint picked a Riney ad to run on this weekend's Super Bowl.

Early spring decision expected
The Publicis Groupe agency, which had been with Sprint for 10 years prior to its merger with Nextel, helped launch Sprint's wireless brand. The agency developed the black-trenchcoat-wearing "Sprint guy" (played by actor Brian Baker) who espoused the virtues of the wireless service in more than 150 ads from 1999 to 2005. That campaign was dropped after TBWA/Chiat/Day, New York, Nextel's ad agency, won the telecom's consumer business after the merger. Riney was retained as agency of record for the business-to-business accounts.

TBWA, part of Omnicom, dropped out of the review last week. A decision is expected in the early spring.

Riney was partnering with Publicis sibling Saatchi & Saatchi, New York, in the review. But both agencies have picked up new business: Riney recently won Wm. Wrigley Jr. Co.'s Altoids brand as well as some assignments from Pinnacle Foods for its Hungry Man Frozen Dinners, Vlasic Pickles and Mrs. Paul's Seafood lines. Saatchi, meanwhile, won Wendy's $300 million account and JC Penney's $430 million account.