Power Players 2009

T-Mobile's Denny Marie Post Is Ad Age's No. 28 Power Player

The Number-Four Carrier Focuses on Value Messaging

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Last Year
THE POWER: Before Denny Marie Post, 52, took the marketing reins at T-Mobile over a year ago, the No. 4 U.S. carrier leaned on a messaging mix that plugged everything from the MyFaves calling service to its landline offering, T-Mobile@Home. Now, value messages sit front and center of T-Mobile's positioning, with Catherine Zeta-Jones reprising her pitchwoman role as she tries to sell overpaying consumers on T-Mobile's value plans. Ms. Post, who joined T-Mobile from Starbucks, oversaw the carrier's most expensive advertising campaign as it launched its second Android-powered handset.

THE NUMBERS: With a 12% market share, T-Mobile is ranked last among the four major U.S. carriers. Since the third quarter of 2008, T-Mobile has been adding steadily fewer net new subscribers, while an average 2.2% of its contract customers left the carrier in the second quarter, the highest attrition rate among top U.S. carriers. Measured media spending in 2008 was $565 million; first-half 2009 spending was down 15% to $230 million.

THE KEY LIEUTENANTS: Mike Belcher, VP-brand communications and experience, Wendy Pinero-DePencier, VP-brand and calendar marketing, and George Harrison, VP-product innovation marketing.

THE CHALLENGE: Thanks to its value positioning and resonance among young urbanites, the U.S. subsidiary of Deutsche Telekom had been its German parent's growth engine for many years. But a rising crop of prepaid providers like Boost Mobile offering all-you-can-eat voice and data plans at market-bottom rates has lured away some of T-Mobile's customers. Meanwhile, Deutsche Telekom has admitted that the limited availability of T-Mobile's 3G network has cost the carrier customers. Yet even as the company tries to ramp up 3G, the industry's top players are already breaking away to lay the groundwork for the next generation of mobile broadband.

THE AGENCIES: T-Mobile has been working with its agency of record, Publicis in the West, since 1996 and is the agency's largest client. Publicis Groupe media agency Optimedia does the media buying. T-Mobile doles out some web-related work to digital agency Ascentiu.

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