France Telecom appoints APL

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MADRID -- Spain's third telecom licensee, majority-owned by France Telecom, has awarded its $42 million to $47 million launch business to Interpublic Group-owned Ammirati Puris Lintas and direct marketing specialist Draft Worldwide, both Madrid. APL's specialist Initiative Media will handle media on the account.

The new telecom venture, branded Lince, will launch by January 1999 and compete with market leader Telefonica and No. 2 Retevision. Lince will supply all telecommunications, including fixed and mobile, local and long distance. France Telecom's partners in the operation are Banco de Santander and cable operator Cable Europa, which between them hold 30% of shares.

"Being No. 3 in the market is difficult," says Philippe Bernard, chairman of APL Spain. "As No. 2, you can say you are the alternative to No. 1, but cheaper. As No. 3, you have to fight harder and prove you really are better, otherwise you'll never exist."

APL beat Grey, Publicis and FCB, all Madrid, to the business, based on a strategic pitch in which no creative was presented.

Lince is expected to aggressively market a wide range of products and services aimed at increasing the amount of time Spaniards spend on the phone. Currently, the Spanish spend only 20% to 40% of the time spent on telecomms by the French.

Mr. Bernard, a native Frenchman who ran France Telecom's mobile business for APL in France three years ago, says the APL-Draft-Initiative combination was picked for the Spanish launch because it was "the most homogenous offer."

He claims his previous experience with the company didn't work in the agency's favor and could have been to its detriment: "If you want to seduce the Spanish consumer, you have to be very Spanish [in your approach] and to respect the culture. Also, this account is so specific to Spain that it didn't help that I'd worked with France Telecom."

In its domestic market, France Telecom uses a variety of agencies, including BBDO, Leo Burnett, DDB and APL.

Copyright July 1998, Crain Communications Inc.

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