Bell Atlantic becomes third telco to review media acc't

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Bell Atlantic is looking to consolidate its media buying account, which could be worth as much as $125 million next year.

The review means three major telecommunications companies are simultaneously exploring their options on media accounts each worth at least $100 million, a situation observers said is unprecedented. SBC Communications and Ameritech Corp. are the others conducting media reviews.

Janet Keeler, Bell Atlantic VP-brand management and marketing communications, confirmed a media review/consolidation has begun for Nynex and Bell Atlantic. The two companies merged earlier this year under the Bell Atlantic moniker.


"There's a need to find the best out there for our combined needs and to get the best costs," she said. "Now that we're larger, we have more clout in the market and more buying power."

Bell Atlantic has hired the Bedford Group, Atlanta, to consult on the review.

The three incumbents that do buying for Bell Atlantic are all expected to participate in the review. They are Zenith Media and TBWA Chiat/Day, both New York, and Arnold Communi-cations, Boston.

Zenith co-owner Saatchi & Saatchi Worldwide resigned the creative portion of the Bell Atlantic account in August. Saatchi said at the time it was unhappy the telco was going to continue to use a number of shops on the creative side, and wanted to leave itself open to land a telco account that did not split its creative. Zenith, however, has continued to have a solid working relationship with Bell Atlantic.

"I don't know who will be invited [to pitch], but we will look" at roster agencies first, Ms. Keeler said.


The telecommunications cate-gory is crowded, and marketers are finding it difficult to identify agencies or media independents that don't already have telco clients.

Finalists in the SBC review, for example, are said to be Leo Burnett USA, Chicago; DDB Needham Worldwide, New York; GSD&M, Austin, Texas; and ICG/ Carat, Los Angeles. ICG/Carat's sibling shop, MBS/Carat, New York, handles spot TV buying for MCI Communications Corp.

Wannamaker Associates, Atlanta, is handling that review.

Ameritech, conducting its review through consultant Morgan, Anderson & Co., New York, has let it be known that it would allow a sibling shop of its media agency of record to work with another telco (AA, Nov. 3). Five shops are competing for the Ameritech business, including its primary creative shop, Ammirati Puris Lintas, New York.

Contributing: Beth Snyder.

Copyright November 1997, Crain Communications Inc.

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