Sprint consolidates

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Sprint Corp., moving to transform itself from a traditional product-line company into a consumer-focused organization, is poised to consolidate advertising for its landline and wireless accounts at Publicis Groupe's Publicis & Hal Riney, San Francisco.

Publicis & Hal Riney, the agency for Sprint PCS since 1996 and creator of Sprint PCS's popular trench-coat man, will pick up additional billings estimated in the $70 million to $100 million range. The account, encompassing business-to-business advertising as well as advertising for landline services, will be shifted from Interpublic Group of Cos.' McCann-Erickson, New York. McCann has been designated the Interpublic Group of Cos.' contender in the $400 million Verizon Wireless pitch.

A Sprint spokesman declined to comment; Riney executives did not return calls for comment at press time.

Sprint, with 26 million customers in over 100 countries, on Feb. 29, announced plans to recombine its wireless unit, Sprint PCS, with its traditional landline long distance company. The merged company will offer customers bundled plans for a variety of services and aims to better compete with SBC and other providers making aggressive combination wireless and landline offers. While wireless is a growing business, consumers are signing up for fewer landline phones, leading to a drop in traditional telephone company revenue.

"The growth on the wireless side will offset losses on the long distance side and make the company look stronger," said Bill Crum, analyst, with Loop Capital Markets, Chicago.

Sprint spent $636 million in measured media in 2002, and $711 million for the first eleven months of 2003, according to TNS Media Intelligence/CMR.

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