In a statement, Initiative said it withdrew following an initial briefing last week. "In light of the conflict policy communicated to us ... it will not be possible for us to draw all of the resources from across Interpublic that are required to best meet the client's needs," it said.
Interpublic Group of Cos.' Universal McCann handles media for AT&T rival Verizon. Initiative was the agency for BellSouth in the nine states in which it operated before AT&T acquired it.
The four remaining incumbents in the review are Omnicom Group's GSD&M, the lead agency for media planning and buying for the telecom's landline business, including digital; WPP Group's Mediaedge:cia, which handled wireless media planning and buying; Omnicom's OMD, which handled print for the wireless unit; and Publicis Groupe's Digitas, which handled wireless digital planning and buying.
AT&T sent out a request for proposals to incumbents in August as part of a massive consolidation. Select Resources International, Santa Monica, Calif., is handling the review.
Earlier this year, AT&T, the nation's second largest advertiser, shifted lead agency responsibilities from GSD&M to BBDO, formerly the agency for Cingular Wireless, now AT&T mobility unit.