Online Exclusive: Account Action

TBWA NAMED AOR FOR SPRINT/NEXTEL BRAND LAUNCH

Publicis & Hal Riney to Get Only B-to-B Work

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SAN FRANCISCO (AdAge.com) -- Sprint and Nextel Communications has named former Nextel shop TBWA/Chiat Day to handle its launch and its consumer advertising, dealing a huge blow to former Sprint agency Publicis & Hal Riney, which is left with the business to business-to-business projects from this billion-dollar a year advertiser.
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The account value is estimated to be between $300 and $500 million.

Lengthy review
The move follows a lengthy review process, in which it was hard to tell which agency would come out on top: Publicis & Hal Riney had controlled Sprint, the bigger chunk of the merged entity; but TBWA's Nextel work was highly rated. The move finally gives TBWA/Chiat/Day the heavyweight account it's been looking for for its New York office.

Last year, the telecommunications companies combined spent more than $1 billion in measured media, according to TNS Media Intelligence.

Launch expected this summer
According to an announcement issued today, TBWA takes on the brand advertising assignment for the launch of the combined telecom, expected as early as this summer. Spending for the launch is undetermined, but Cingular Wirlesss spent $300 million in measured media last year after it combined with AT&T Wireless. TBWA also picks up the consumer side of the business.

Riney, which handled consumer and business to business duties for Sprint, now will handle only business-to-business advertising and other unspecified "services." Frankel, another Publicis shop, will handle promotion assignments. Still pending are duties for interactive, direct marketing and Hispanic.

Media assignments not determined
Media duties for the combined telecom are still up in the air, the marketers said. Starcom MediaVest Group works with Sprint, while Nextel's agency is MindShare. The statement noted that neither Sprint nor Nextel is "projecting" future ad spending.

Sprint spent $847 million in measured media, according to TNS Media Intelligence, while Nextel spent $339.7 million. Sprint, the nation's No. 3 carrier, had an 11.8% market share in 2004, while Nextel, No. 5, had a 8.9% share. Measured on a spending-per-share-point basis, Sprint had had the nation's highest spending, $72.6 million, compared with $62.6 million for Verizon Wireless and $52.9 million for Cingular Wireless. Nextel spent $23 million per 2004 share point.

End of the Sprint guy?
The decision likely means the end of the Sprint guy, a trench-coat-clad service man who appeared in the carrier's humorous spots to solve consumer's phone problems.

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