GTE's move to O&M puts Nynex, others in question

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GTE Corp. last week named Ogilvy & Mather Worldwide as agency of record for its $80 million account; the next question is which agency will handle the merged Bell Atlantic Corp./Nynex Corp.

That merger is expected this spring, and Nynex executives have already been appointed to top marketing positions.

"It's too early to be talking about what may or may not happen when the merger goes through," said a Nynex spokesman. "Right now, we're focused on making sure the work Ogilvy formerly handled is reassigned to our other agencies."


Nynex said it will reassign the estimated $50 million handled by O&M to its other "dedicated" agencies: Arnold Communications, Boston, and the Lord Group, New York, a unit of Young & Rubicam. Arnold does indeed qualify as dedicated--it twice turned down GTE's invitations to participate in its account review.

New York-based O&M apparently was nervous about the uncertainty of its future after the completion of the Bell Atlantic/Nynex merger, and jumped at the opportunity for increased billings with GTE.

While not all executive positions at the merged company have been filled, some marketing positions have been. Janet Keeler, Nynex's current director of advertising, was named VP-advertising, and Amy McIntosh, VP-product management, was named VP-consumer marketing.

"So far, it's looking like Nynex will have a fair amount of the marketing positions at the new company," said a spokeswoman for Bell Atlantic, which relies almost exclusively on Saatchi & Saatchi Advertising for its $50 million account.


However, Bell Atlantic's top executives are expected to ultimately control the reins. Bell Atlantic Chairman-CEO Ray Smith will assume that title at the merged company, which will lose the Nynex name and be simply Bell Atlantic.

"Bell Atlantic seems to be pretty happy with Saatchi," said Brian Adamik, a consultant with the Yankee Group. "I doubt highly that they'll start shopping around for a different agency."

O&M beat out four other finalists in the five-month GTE review: incumbent Focus GTE (a unit of DDB Needham created for GTE in 1993), Dallas; Campbell Mithun Esty, Minneapolis; and Wells Rich Greene BDDP and BBDO Worldwide, both New York.

Temerlin McClain, Dallas, will continue to handle a limited amount of GTE work on a project basis.


"Ogilvy has the sheer wherewithal to handle the account in terms of scope and size," said Glen Gilbert, GTE's VP-advertising. "And on a more intangible level, we really struck a certain chemistry with the people."

O&M this week begins developing creative strategy for its new client, but must face another existing-client conflict as well.

The agency's Los Angeles office handles an estimated $25 million in work for Pacific Bell, and its options are currently being reviewed.

Contributing: Laura Petrecca.

Copyright February 1997, Crain Communications Inc.

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