A switch to a roster shop had been rumored since SBC finalized its purchase of Ameritech Corp. in October.
Ameritech creative is handled by Lowe Lintas & Partners Worldwide, Chicago. Several executives close to the telco have said SBC also is considering a review of that part of the business (AA, Nov. 22).
An SBC spokesman said the company is evaluating the advertising organizational structure both internally and externally.
RELATIONSHIP NOT STRONG
"At this point, all the agency business is status quo," he said.
Carat did not return calls. The other shops referred calls to the client.
One executive close to the situation said the media move is not surprising, since the Car-at/Ameritech relationship was never strong. Carat won the business in November 1997, just months after the former Ammirati Puris Lintas won creative.
The move comes in the midst of SBC's search for several key marketing executives. The telco giant -- the parent of such brands as Southwestern Bell, Pacific Bell, SNET and Cellular One -- slashed its marketing and advertising departments late last year, laying off hundreds. Key executives who have left include Bill Morgan, former VP-brand management and advertising at SBC, and Joan Walker, former senior VP-corporate communications at Ameritech.
TRYING TO FILL JOBS
SBC now is trying to fill those positions, albeit with different titles. For the past month, the company has advertised for a corporate manager of advertising, corporate manager of media services and a manager of advertising.
SBC is already in the middle of a closed review for its new long-distance subsidiary, SBC Telecom. Roster shops GSD&M and Goodby, Silverstein & Partners, San Francisco, are vying for the estimated $15 million account.
The telecommunications marketer also is considering a third review of outside agencies for the combined direct-marketing account of SBC and Ameritech.
The companies spent about $430 million in unmeasured media in 1998, according to Advertising Age data.
One executive said SBC may decide to keep Lowe on the roster since the workload has increased greatly. In addition, SBC wants to be a global telecom player and Lowe has its own international network. GSD&M and Goodby both operate only in the U.S., although they are Omnicom Group shops.