The move is a return to Interpublic Group of Cos.; Foote, Cone & Belding won the Qwest account in 2002 from Omnicom Group's DDB, Chicago. However, when FCB and Draft merged in June 2006 forming DraftFCB, a separate unit called Rivet was formed to handle Qwest because of a potential conflict with Verizon. Over time, Qwest moved much of its work to McClain Finlon Advertising, Denver. Verizon, meanwhile, which had its direct-marketing work at Rivet, subsequently consolidated most of its account at McCann Erickson.
In March, Qwest announced a review, conducted over the last few months by MagiKbox, Greenwich, Conn. In addition to McClain Finlon and DraftFCB, Publicis Groupe's Fallon was a contender, according to the marketer.
A Fallon spokeswoman did not return calls and e-mails for comment by deadline.
Qwest, which operates in 14 Western states, faces strong competition from bundled services offered by cable providers such as Comcast that are moving into telephone and broadband services.
"The opportunity for Qwest is one of growth," said Kim Whitehead, VP-marketing at Qwest. "As we move forward, we're really looking for a strategic partner that can help us focus on the new markets." She said the company will continue with its service strategy and a campaign tagged "The Spirit of Service."
Mark Modesto, president, DraftFCB, Chicago, in a statement said the agency is "committed to working closely with them to drive Qwest's business to new heights."