AT&T REVIEW MAY JOLT SHOPS

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AT&T will take a magnifying glass to its $300 million media buying account in a recently launched review that may shake up some of its agencies.

The No. 1 long-distance marketer seeks improved efficiencies in handling the mammoth account, which includes reassignment of $45 million in media buying recently resigned by Ogilvy & Mather, New York, due to conflicts with IBM Corp.

Included in the review are AT&T's core agencies FCB/Leber Katz Partners, N W Ayer and its recently renamed media buying unit the Media Edge, McCann Erickson Worldwide and Young & Rubicam, all New York.

D'Arcy Masius Benton & Bowles' TeleVest media buying unit is also said to be included in the pitch plus another undisclosed agency.

"Our goal isn't to tell our agencies they did a bad job, but rather to update the way we operate based on industry changes," said Robert Watson, AT&T's general manager for advertising services.

While AT&T insists the review is routine, executives close to the situation believe changes could be significant for existing agencies as AT&T seeks new ways to reach customers.

Mr. Watson said AT&T is taking a more serious look at interactive and non-traditional channels, including its "leadership position" in advertising in movie theaters and airports. He also said AT&T is "eager" to explore ads in fast-food outlets and supermarkets.

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