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LONDON -- U.S. telecom operator Sprint has appointed London start-up Naked to handle media strategy for the launch of its Internet services in Europe and Asia. MediaVest International, London, will tackle media buying.

In signing up a small media strategy outfit, Westwood, Kansas-based Sprint is matching the profile of its newly chosen creative partner. In March, the company assigned its creative account to new Amsterdam-based boutique StrawberryFrog. Details of the multimillion dollar budget is undisclosed.

Though it has picked a start-up, Sprint is backing it with the buying muscle of Bcom3 Group-owned MediaVest, part of the Starcom MediaVest Group.

Naked's "agility and flexibility with our daunting timelines is extremely important," said Allison Hill of Sprint's global marketing team. "We only have one chance to launch this type of message, and I [need] to make sure it was right on target the first time. ... I [have] every confidence they [will] do a superior job based on their experience and knowledge."

There was no competitive pitch for the media accounts. StrawberryFrog introduced Naked to its client; Naked presented jointly with MediaVest, with whom it has cooperated on a number of projects. "It's a three-way dream team," said Rupert Newman, marketing and business development director for MediaVest U.K.

Naked's mixed-media campaign will include online ads and e-mail alerts, as well as national and international consumer and trade print ads. "The aim is to put the Sprint brand name on the map in several key markets in Europe and Asia to build credibility and highlight Sprint's innovative approach," according to an agency statement. -- Suzanne Bidlake

Copyright May 2001, Crain Communications Inc.

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