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(June 22, 2001) PARIS -- French mobile phone operator Bouygues Telecom has called a multi-agency review for its $100 million advertising budget in response to market leader France Telecom's massive launch of the Orange brand nationwide.

Bouygues Telecom is said to be putting its entire account into play in the new review, which will see pitches in July from Paris roster agencies WPP Group's Young & Rubicam and Omnicom Group's Louis XIV DDB, as well as a handful of other agencies, said to include Paris shops of True North Communications' FCB Worldwide and Interpublic Group of Cos.' Lowe Lintas & Partners Worldwide.

Bouygues has refused all comment on the competition, which industry sources say aims to reinforce the company's role as one of the principal challengers to France Telecom's hegemony in the mobile phone market, now being reinforced with a $30 million Orange re-branding effort that was launched in mid-June.

With 5.6 million clients and an 18% market share, Bouygues holds a strong third place in the French mobile sector. It nonetheless lags well behind Orange's 15 million clients and 48% market share, and the 10 million clients and 34% market share held by SFR, a joint venture between Vivendi Universal and BT. -- Lawrence J. Speer

Copyright June 2001, Crain Communications Inc.

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