It's a familiar tale -- with a new CMO comes entrenched
relationships, so incumbents beware. Still, Mr. Malloy, just months
into a new job, is showing himself to be especially decisive and
unconcerned about maintaining the status quo. Goodby is one
of the darlings in the agency world, and the shop's unceremonious
firing would be unthinkable to many large marketers. And while all
the leading U.S. carriers employ ad agencies that have grown up
making big-budget commercials for TV, Mr. Malloy has scrapped that
model for a team lead by a digital agency, Digitas .
Mr. Malloy declined to comment for this article and Digitas
referred all calls to the client.
Bill Morgan, Sprint's previous top marketer, was one of Goodby's
many fans. In his four years at Sprint he became close to the shop.
He was also a fan of the shop's headquarters city, San Francisco.
He has family there and throughout his tenure at Kansas City-based
Sprint, Mr. Morgan would commute frequently between the two
Mr. Morgan's departure was announced only internally in
September; Mr. Malloy was simultaneously appointed chief marketing
officer, a loftier title than Mr. Morgan had (senior VP-marketing).
Since taking the post at Sprint, Mr. Malloy has permanently
relocated to Kansas City from the northern suburbs of Chicago.
Sprint CEO Dan Hesse himself was likely responsible for bringing
Mr. Malloy aboard. They were contemporaries at AT&T Wireless and have known each other
for years. At AT&T, Mr. Malloy led the team that created
AT&T 's flat-rate for national calls on mobile phones, which
was largely transformative for the industry. Mr. Malloy's time at
the company overlapped with Mr. Hesse's tenure as president-CEO of
AT&T Wireless Services.
Mr. Hesse, nearing the five-year mark as Sprint chief, has faced
a tough challenge differentiating Sprint in a smartphone-hungry
market where its major competitors, AT&T and Verizon
Communications, had quickly aligned with leading paltforms
iPhone and Android, respectively. The industry faces stifled growth
as most Americans already own mobile phones and many are already
upgrading to internet-connected devices.
Mr. Malloy also has history with Tony Weisman, the Digitas
Chicago president that will lead Publicis' so-called Team Sprint.
This pair attended management courses at Northwestern University
together in the 1990s. One executive said Mr. Malloy consulted the
agency on the wireless industry, given it had no clients in the
sector and was looking to enter the category. In more recent times,
the two began holding meetings at Digitas' Chicago office.
Mr. Malloy came to Sprint from Seattle venture firm Ignition
Partners, where he advised on the company's telecom and wireless
investments and represented Ignition on boards, including one for
Extend America -- a company, coincidentally, acquired by
Early in his career, Mr. Malloy spent time on the agency side.
He jumped from the agency serving McCaw Cellular to the client-side
to lead national marketing. Perhaps it was that agency experience
that made Mr. Malloy feel comfortable enough, upon landing at
Sprint, to reevaluate the company's agency relationships himself
without the help of an outside consultant or, for that matter, many
of his own people.
According to one person close to the situation, the announcement
last Wednesday about Sprint's new agency not only came as a
complete surprise to its agencies such as Goodby, EuroRSCG and
Mindshare, but also
to certain members of Sprint's own marketing team that weren't made
aware of the impending shift until late in the game.
Mr. Malloy is said to have ultimately decided that there wasn't
a need for work spread across holding companies Omnicom, WPP,
Publicis and Havas and so, after evaluating the options, he chose
to consolidate the bulk of Sprint's business at Publicis. He is
attracted to the multidisciplinary work that the holding company
has done for several major marketers, such as General Motors,
Citibank and Procter &
Gamble, and is hoping for similar results.
The changes brought an unwelcome surprise at the end of the year
for Omnicom Group's Goodby, Havas' EuroRSCG and WPP's Mindshare.
While the latter shop still remains the carrier's media agency of
record, some industry executives think there's reason to believe
that Publicis Groupe could secure the media account down the road
One incentive for the formation of "Team Sprint" rather than
handing the business to any one entity could have been other
conflicts within the Publicis Groupe network; collectively, the
holding company works on AT&T , T-Mobile, Deutsche Telekom,
Orange, and Rogers Communications.
While Digitas is leading Team Sprint, Leo Burnett's inclusion in
the team is said to be partly driven by the fact that Burnett's
U.S. chief creative officer Susan Credle had some 15 years of
creative telecom experience through her 24-year tenure at BBDO 's New York office.
In a memo to Leo Burnett employees, Rich Stoddart, president-Leo
Burnett USA, announced the Sprint win, saying, "Two years ago, we
set out to fill our void in two very important categories --
financial services and telecom. Following the big wins of Invesco
and Fifth Third, this is an especially exciting and important
He ended the email by saying the agency would celebrate the win
"at Soldier Field on Friday morning for a real Sprint halftime
report," referring to the agency's annual holiday fete, which
despite being held during the day, is typically a boozy affair.
Thanks to Sprint, the Burnett Breakfast (dubbed so because it was a
tradition put in place by the founder) probably had a few more
bottles of champagne popping this year than in years past.
~ ~ ~
Contributing: Maureen Morrison, Alexandra Bruell