POWER PLAY: Perhaps Mark Schweitzer's biggest power play was when he hitched Nextel to one of the hottest brands in sports and entertainment, Nascar. Or was it when, as Nextel CMO, he was named chief marketer for the merged brand? In any case, Sprint Nextel made a strong play for sports as it develops the phone into a mobile medium, a prospect that will help solidify its average revenue per user, currently one of the highest. Other properties snapped up include exclusives with the National Football League and National Hockey League.
DOWNSIDE: Although the combined marketing for the two companies in 2004 topped $1 billion, time will tell whether Sprint will keep up with Cingular and Verizon. The new company is a marriage of two different brands, customers and cultures. So far, Mr. Schweitzer has managed with a Solomon-like approach, launching the brand with the go-to-market name of Sprint and Nextel as a sub-brand. He's split marketing duties by genre, with Nextel agency TBWA/Chiat/Day gaining the consumer and branding business and Sprint shop Publicis & Hal Riney handling business-to-business duties. But no one is ruling out an agency review next year.