T-Mobile awards Initiative its $2 billion U.S. media business
T-Mobile has awarded its lucrative media account to Interpublic Group of Cos.' Initiative, following a review that kicked off last September.
According to Ad Age's Datacenter, the mobile communications conglomerate spent $2.3 billion on measured media in the U.S. in 2019. The review though, which was managed by ID Comms, also included its Sprint business.
“Now that Sprint is part of T-Mobile, we’re operating on a bigger scale and taking on bigger and bolder goals," T-Mobile Chief Marketing Officer Matt Staneff said in a statement. "As part of that, we reviewed agency relationships over the last few months. Our team heard from the best of the best and saw incredible thinking to help fuel our next phase of growth. We are grateful to those who took part and congratulate the team at Initiative for their well-deserved success!”
According to people close to the matter, Initiative was the only newcomer in the review, beating out incumbents GroupM's Essence, Horizon Media and Publicis Media. Initative and Publicis Media were the finalists, says one person with knowledge of the situation.
On its incumbents, a T-Mobile spokesperson said: "We especially want to thank the fantastic team at Publicis Media for their years-long partnership and the crucial role they have played in T-Mobile’s success. And also the team at Essence who in recent years have helped us evolve our digital capabilities."
Publicis Media previously controlled the offline T-Mobile business, worth $810 million; Essence handled T-Mobile's digital duties, worth $200 million. Sprint also spent another $1.1 billion, according to estimates from COMvergence that includes business held by Horizon. Horizon says it retains Boost Mobile, at $300 million and lost about $300 million, since the remainder the total was by Sprint handled in-house.
Publicis was T-Mobile's longtime agency of record, successfully defending its AOR status in a 2017 review. Also in 2017, Horizon won Sprint's media business from Publicis Groupe's Mediavest | Spark (now Spark Foundry). A year later, T-Mobile handed its digital media business to Essence from Publicis, while taking certain responsibilities including search, strategy and analytics in-house.
The review follows the completion of T-Mobile's $26.5 billion merger with Sprint last April, after a federal judge in February rejected claims from a group of state attorneys that the deal would present antitrust harm.