Y&R, Mediacom win Czech mobile phone pitch

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PRAGUE--Cesky Mobil, the Czech Republic's new mobile phone operator, has awarded its creative account to Young & Rubicam and its media buying account to Grey-owned Mediacom. The account is believed to be the most lucrative piece of advertising business awarded in the country this year.

Saatchi & Saatchi, Publicis and two Interpublic Group of Cos. agencies, Ammirati Puris Lintas and McCann-Erickson Worldwide also pitched for theaccount.

A Canadian-Czech joint venture, Cesky Mobil is also hearing below-the-line agency credential presentations this week in expectation of a forthcoming pitch.

"Right now, we're looking at agencies and getting to know the [below-the-line] market. We're in the process of seeing what services are available and determining what services we'll be needing, whether that will be one or two agencies, whether by roster or on an ad-hoc project basis,'' says Cesky Mobil Marketing Director Kris Crowe.

The exact ad budget for Cesky Mobil is not known, but Y&R, Prague, CEO Martin Beck says: "The company wants to compete with both Eurotel and Paegas so of course it means that the spending has to correspond.'' Last year, Eurotel was the country's third largest advertiser, with $10.2 million in rate-card spend, while Paegas spent an estimated $8.4 million, according to media research firm A-Connect.

Cesky Mobil begins service in mid-January. The company is a consortium made up of Canada's Telesystem International Wireless, Dutch telecom firm UPC and its Kabel Net local venture, and the Czech bank IPB.

Since 1996, when Paegas won the country's second mobile phone license, mobile phone ownership in the Czech Republic has increased from 2% to 15%. Former monopolist Eurotel controls 57% of the market, while Paegas has 43%.

Both run on the GSM 900 frequency, whereas Cesky Mobil will be on the GSM DCS 1800 frequency. But both Eurotel and Paegas will have the right to offer DCS 1800 service beginning in June, 2000. The DCS system provides better quality in urban areas, which will be Cesky Mobil's target market.

Both Eurotel and Paegas have already begun offering packages with lower tariffs in anticipation of Cesky Mobil's launch. Euro RSCG Prague handles Paegas, and Eurotel's agency is Leo Burnett Prague.

Copyright November 1999, Crain Communications Inc.

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