Sprint Names Hesse President-CEO

Wireless-Industry Vet Was Chief of Embarq

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SAN FRANCISCO (AdAge.com) -- Sprint Nextel today named Daniel R. Hesse president-CEO, filling the position left by the departure of Gary Forsee, who resigned in October.

Mr. Hesse, 54, is a wireless-industry veteran who built his reputation as an innovator in customer relations at the old AT&T Wireless. Most recently, he was chairman, president-CEO of Embarq Corp., a telco service provider operating in 18 states.

Sprint spin-off
Embarq spun off from Sprint a year and half ago. Embarq allows customers to have one mailbox for landline and wireless phone messages. It also allows consumers to take wireless calls on a landline, and landline calls on a wireless phone.

Sprint, on the other hand, has been undergoing a disconnect with its customers. "Sprint is a company that has an excellent quality wireless service, but its customers think otherwise," said Jeff Kagan, a wireless industry analyst. Sprint needs to "understand marketing and the customer, and that's Dan Hesse," Mr. Kagan said.

Sprint has a number of key challenges ahead, including stemming subscriber losses; capitalizing on Pivot, its joint venture with cable companies; and deciding what to do about Xohm, a multibillion-dollar WiMaxx network championed by Mr. Forsee that would deliver faster internet connections than AT&T or Verizon, but likely not for several years.

Ad agencies
Sprint's ad agency, Omnicom Group's Goodby, Silverstein & Partners, San Francisco, has developed an ad campaign focused on "Sprint Speed," which uses a neon light as a visual metaphor. Embarq uses the tagline "Where common sense meets innovation" and is a client of Interpublic Group of Cos.' Mullen, Winston-Salem, N.C.

At Embarq, Tom A. Gerke, 51, previously Embarq's general counsel, has been named interim CEO.
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