Sprint Names Exec Creative Director to Run New In-House Agency

Deutsch Remains Agency of Record for General Market Advertising

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Christopher Ian Bennett.
Christopher Ian Bennett. Credit: Courtesy of Sprint

Sprint has chosen an executive creative director to run a new internal agency, a move that comes as the company works to cut costs across the board.

The agency, called YellowFan Studios, will be housed inside Sprint's headquarters and will be run by Christopher Ian Bennett. He first arrived at Sprint as director of innovation and creative media in August 2015. Prior to that, he worked at a number of companies in various roles, including as a corporate communications executive and public affairs exec at Guitar Center and Best Buy.

The new agency has hired about 30 people and expects to hire 30 more, according to the company.

In his new role, Mr. Bennett will oversee the creative direction of Sprint, which the company said will be taking a new direction in 2016. He is "is the new leader of Sprint's creative vision for 2016," the company said in an email. "Whether in public relations or the political arena, the music business or digital media, his award-winning, 20-year career as a creative communicator is as eclectic as it is unique."

At YellowFan, Mr. Bennett will pursue "a bold new creative strategy" this year, including a "re-imagination" of social media, branded content, experiential marketing "and an exciting new focus on consumer storytelling," Sprint said. The agency "has full creative responsibility for the Overland Park, Kan.-based mobile carrier providing film and print production, design and all other creative services," it said.

A spokeswoman declined to detail what the new marketing strategy and creative will look like.

The logo for Sprint's internal YellowFan Studios.
The logo for Sprint's internal YellowFan Studios. Credit: Sprint

Sprint in October said it planned to cut costs by $2.5 billion. In its earnings call earlier this month, CEO Marcelo Claure said that "we are determined to basically reduce all the waste, any waste that exists within the business and we've been able to reduce our marketing expense by 12%. And as a matter of fact, we expect to even reduce it even further while maintaining on growing our net adds."

The company named Roger Solé its new chief marketing officer in December, succeeding Kevin Crull, who held the post for just seven months.

Bringing production in-house, especially digital content production, is a growing trend for marketers, a move that comes after agencies in recent years have also beefed up their in-house digital content production.

Deutsch is Sprint's lead agency. The Interpublic shop originally won the business in 2014, taking over for Figliulo & Partners, which had been handling the account since taking it over from Leo Burnett just the year before.

Sprint's internal agency is now handling advertising for Sprint's new "One Sprint" local messaging as well as building a "new general market social strategy overall," Tracy Palmer, VP-brand, advertising and social at the marketer, said by email.

"Deutsch remains our agency of record for general market advertising and Alma our agency of record for Hispanic advertising," Ms. Palmer added. "Both agencies continue to be valued and critical members of our team and we are grateful for their ongoing support."

Deutsch in recent weeks had a round of layoffs, mostly related to production work for Sprint. The agency had opened an in-house production shop, Steelhead, on the heels of the Sprint win, but a spokeswoman, who declined to say how many people were laid off, said the agency handles production for a number of other clients, including Taco Bell, Snapple and Volkswagen.

Deutsch just last week lost Pizza Hut, a sizeable account, to Droga5. Deutsch recently won the Pandora account, but it wasn't clear how much that would mitigate the Pizza Hut loss.

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