AIRTOUCH OPENS $100 MIL REVIEW FOR MEDIA BUYING: WIRELESS PHONE MARKETER JOINING OTHERS IN CONSOLIDATING AGENCIES

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AirTouch Communications will consolidate media buying for what could be $100 million in advertising, now currently spread among four agencies in separate regions.

One of the world's largest wireless phone marketers, AirTouch spent $77 million in measured media in 1997, according to Competitive Media Reporting.

INCUMBENT SHOPS

The incumbents are TBWA Chiat/Day, Venice, Calif.; BBDO Worldwide, Minneapolis; Western International Media, Los Angeles; and two Bozell Worldwide offices, Costa Mesa, Calif., and Detroit. TBWA Chiat/Day handles corporate advertising and launched a major branding initiative on this year's Super Bowl, with spots airing in AirTouch's 35 regional markets.

In the U.S., AirTouch has cellular operations in 19 states with 7.2 million cellular and digital cellular customers, along with 3.1 million pager customers.

It recently bought the national wireless business of U S West and also has a 50% stake in digital wireless company PrimeCo Personal Communications.

OTHER SHOPS CONTACTED

Consultancy Mitchell Madison Group, San Francisco, is handling the review. The incumbents are involved, and others sent requests for proposals include McCann-Erickson Worldwide and DDB Needham Worldwide's Optimum Media, both New York.

AirTouch would not comment on which agencies received requests for proposals, but stressed that the review is for media buying only, with the incumbents continuing to handle creative and media planning.

This review is the latest in a spate of telecom agency actions.

BELL ATLANTIC REVIEW

Bell Atlantic Corp. is in the middle of a $200 million media consolidation, with finalists Arnold Communications, Boston, pitching with Draft Worldwide, New York; Zenith Media pitching with Media Direct Partners; TBWA Chiat/Day, and TN Media. Those four shops are all in New York. A decision is not expected until late June or July.

OTHER REVIEWS

Wireless phone maker Qualcomm late last week selected Fallon McElligott, Minneapolis, for its $20 million account. The other finalist in Qualcomm's review was Wieden & Kennedy, Portland, Ore. U S West expects to make a decision later this month on its $70 million account consolidation, choosing between finalists Bozell Worldwide, Seattle; DDB Needham Worldwide, Chicago; and Campbell Mithun Esty and Martin/Williams, both Minneapolis.

A fourth review, said to be reaching a decision late last week, is Level 3, a new telecom player building a state-of-the-art network and looking for its first agency for an estimated $30 million annual budget.

Contributing: Chuck Ross

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