Sprint Names Deutsch Los Angeles New Agency of Record

Shop Will Handle Strategy, Creative

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A scene from a Sprint ad created recently by Deutsch.
A scene from a Sprint ad created recently by Deutsch.
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Sprint has finally confirmed that Interpublic's Deutsch L.A. is its new creative agency of record.

The marketer in recent weeks had been reluctant to confirm that the shop won its business, following a review that began at the end of the summer, saying its new ads from Deutsch L.A. were only project work.

Deutsch L.A. will now officially handle creative and strategy for the telecom. Figliulo & Partners had been handling that work ever since it took it over from Leo Burnett in November 2013. A Figliulo & Partners executive did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Figliulo & Partners will remain on the roster, said Tracy Palmer, director of brand and advertising, Sprint. She declined to elaborate.

Publicis Groupe's Leo Burnett continues to handle retail for Sprint and sibling shop DigitasLBi continues to handle digital. Mercer Island Consulting handled the review.

"We went through an intense selection process and we are confident in the capabilities of our new partner," CMO Jeff Hallock said in a statement to Ad Age. "They are a major asset to add to our agency roster."

Sprint said last month that Mr. Hallock will depart at the end of the first quarter next year unless the marketer finds a successor sooner.

"We are thrilled to take on this business in a completely integrated way," Deutsch L.A. CEO Michael Sheldon said in a statement. "Sprint is eager to do the type of bold and disruptive creative work that we do best and we look forward to the massive opportunity ahead."

Sprint sent out a request for proposals on Aug. 29, only weeks after Marcelo Claure became CEO of the company. Under Mr. Claure, the company has introduced a series of aggressive new plans and price cuts. In its third-quarter earnings call in early November, Mr. Claure detailed "the new Sprint" -- one that centers on a revamped marketing agenda. Sprint last week said it will terminate its sponsorship of Nascar after the 2016 season, citing a need to focus on its core business priorities. The partnership dates back to 2004.

But one of Mr. Claure's first acts was to pull the "Framily Plan" pitch, which Figliulo & Partners had marketed with its "Frobinsons" campaign starring a cast of oddball characters.

The win is another big coup for Deutsch this year. This summer, it picked up the Pizza Hut business from McGarryBowen without a review, and more recently added digital duties to its Taco Bell business. With Sprint on the client list now, Deutsch said it will hire as many as 120 additional people. The shop will also open what it calls a fully functioning broadcast production company to serve Sprint.

Sprint currently commands 15% of the U.S. market, trailing Verizon (33%) and AT&T (28%), according to comScore. Yet amid a network overhaul, Sprint is bleeding customers -- it lost 714,000 "postpaid" subscribers over the past year. It's also confronting a credible challenge from T-Mobile, which added 2.3 million customers during the third quarter.

Sprint, the 23rd largest advertiser in the U.S., spent $1.56 billion in U.S. advertising in 2013, according to Ad Age's DataCenter. That figure includes measured and unmeasured media. According to Kantar Media, Sprint spent $943.3 million in 2013 on U.S. measured media, which includes spot TV, syndicated TV, cable and other ad venues.

Contributing: Malika Toure, Mark Bergen

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