MESSNER COULD PREVAIL IN MCI, WORLDCOM DEAL

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WorldCom's $37 billion takeover of MCI Communications Corp. calls into question their combined $345 million ad budget.

While neither company is talking strategy yet, industry analysts speculate a review is probably coming for the new MCI WorldCom. Most expect MCI agency Messner Vetere Berger McNamee Schmetterer/Euro RSCG, New York, to fare well in that event.

"MCI has been one of the most innovative marketing geniuses that the communications industry has ever seen," said analyst Jeffrey Kagan, president of Kagan Telecom Associates. "A lot of that has to do with the marketing executives and a lot of that has to do with [MCI's] advertising agency. It's clear where the advertising genius and marketing clout lie in the merger."

WorldCom, which has focused on acquiring telecom companies so far, has only about a $10 million budget, handled by Earle Palmer Brown, Bethesda, Md. MCI's spending is about $335 million, according to Competitive Media Reporting.

MCI officials refused to comment and a WorldCom spokes-man said, "Each company will continue on its own advertising and marketing path until the deal is consummated."

NO JOINT EFFORTS IMMINENT

The WorldCom spokesman said that means no joint marketing work will be done for the estimated six to nine months it will take to get shareholder and regulatory approval.

EPB CEO Jeb Brown said: "Any speculation at this stage is premature and unfounded."

WorldCom has NBA star Michael Jordan under 10-year contract as ad spokesman, and EPB is working on new ads featuring him.

Key to future marketing success, industry analysts say, is the fact that MCI retains all its executives in key positions as part of the deal. Current MCI Chairman Bert Roberts will become chairman of MCI WorldCom; Gerald Taylor, now CEO of MCI, will become vice chairman; and Timothy Price, president-chief operating officer of MCI, will become president-CEO of the U.S. operating subsidiary.

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