Ken Bowes, president of Atlanta consultancy Wanamaker Associates, has invited 10 media-buying entities to pitch the account. The review follows SBC's acquisition last spring of Pacific Bell parent Pacific Telesis.
The St. Louis office of D'Arcy Masius Benton & Bowles currently handles media for SBC's Southwestern Bell, while TBS Media Management, New York, handles media for Pacific Bell.
DMB&B WON'T PARTICIPATE
SBC recently awarded DMB&B an unspecified creative assignment. However, the agency won't be participating in the media review. Executives would not say if the agency had been invited.
TBS Media is believed to be involved. GSD&M is believed to be pitching the media buying and Creative Media, a Goodby sibling under Omnicom Group, apparently was invited to pitch.
TBS Media would not comment on the review. Creative Media President Robert Hanley said he is aware of the review but is not actively pursuing the business now.
GSD&M, which handles creative for SBC's cellular and Yellow Pages businesses, also declined comment.
The SBC review follows a decision by Saatchi & Saatchi Advertising Worldwide, New York, to part with Bell Atlantic shortly after its merger with Nynex was finalized last month.
WHY DID SAATCHI QUIT?
Though rival agencies said Saatchi resigned its creative assignments after learning it was going to have to forfeit some business when Bell Atlantic decided to retain newly acquired Nynex agencies, Saatchi maintained it walked away because of declining revenues on the account. Saatchi also said it left because, despite the erosion in revenues, it would have been blocked from pursuing other telco advertising.
The remaining Bell Atlantic agencies are Lord Group, New York, a joint venture of Dentsu and Young & Rubicam; Arnold Communications, Boston; DraftDirect Worldwide, New York; and Tierney & Partners, Philadelphia.
Zenith Media USA, a sister company of Saatchi & Saatchi, still holds Bell Atlantic's media assignment. Wendy Marquardt, director of DMB&B's media group, recently left to join Zenith Media. At present, however, it would not be able to pitch the SBC business.
Another potential shakeup looms with British Telecom's pending acquisition of MCI Communications Corp., although executives involved say such decisions are a long way off.
British Telecom currently uses Abbott Mead Vickers/ BBDO, London, while Messner Vetere Berger McNamee Schmetterer/Euro RSCG, New York, handles MCI. Messner also created the initial pre-merger advertising already running, which introduces the new holding company to be created by the merger, Concert.
MCI and British Telecom both said Concert ad assignments won't be addressed until the merger is completed. Interestingly, Saatchi & Saatchi held British Telecom assignments beginning in 1991 and is still a roster agency, although it has no current active assignments.