SBC taps Rapp for consolidated direct account

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SBC Communications has chosen Rapp Collins Worldwide, New York, to handle its multibrand direct marketing account, which could reach as much as $400 million.

Rapp CEO Malcolm Speed said no dollar value had been totaled for the new account, but described it as "unquestionably large."

SBC and Ameritech Corp., which SBC acquired last year, spent almost $430 million in unmeasured media in 1998, according to Advertising Age data. While that figure includes special events and promotions, direct represents the bulk of it.


Rapp, part of Omnicom Group, will handle telemarketing, direct mail, direct-response TV, print and interactive work for numerous SBC brands-including Ameritech, Cellular One, Nevada Bell, Pacific Bell, SBC Telecom, SNET and Southwestern Bell.

The telco is one of Rapp's largest clients. Rapp, which had $167.1 million in U.S. agency revenue in 1998, does direct work for Daimler-Chrysler, Dell Computer Corp., Hyatt Hotels & Resorts and Pfizer.

Direct work for SBC and its subsidiaries previously was handled by at least six other agencies-including Brann Worldwide, Chichester, England, for Cellular One, Pacific Bell and Southwestern Bell; and Dialogue Works, New York, (formerly Clarion Marketing & Communications) for SBC.

Larry Solomon, SBC VP-corporate communications, said consolidating the direct work with one agency gives the company a lot of advantages. When asked if outside agencies would still do direct work for SBC subsidiaries, Mr. Solomon replied, "Rapp is our direct agency."


The consolidation is the San Antonio company's latest move to streamline marketing operations since merging with Chicago-based Ameritech in October.

SBC laid off hundreds of marketing, advertising and public relations employees in offices across the country late last year (AA, Nov. 22), and is currently searching for corporate marketing managers.

The account will be managed by Rapp's Dallas office and include other Rapp units, such as InfoWorks, Marketing Technology Group, Optima Direct and RappDigital.

Mr. Speed said the SBC review progressed fairly quickly during the past few months and focused on Rapp's capability to approach clients strategically and to manage a rapidly growing business.

SBC CEO Edward E. Whitacre Jr. has said the company, which reported $4.12 billion in earnings in 1998 and $28.78 billion in revenue, anticipates double-digit revenue and earnings growth by 2001.

Mr. Whitacre predicted that 75% of the company's three-year growth would come from SBC's expansion strategy for SBC Telecom, nationwide marketing and expansion of wireless and data services and added long-distance markets.

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