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TBWA/Chiat/Day and Hal Riney Face Off Over $1 Billion Account

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SAN FRANCISCO ( -- With the pending merger of Sprint Corp. and Nextel Communications, the two advertising agencies of record are preparing to battle it out for their share of a nearly $1 billion account.

Omnicom Group's TBWA/Chiat/Day has been Nextel's agency. Publicis Groupe's Publicis & Hal Riney has been Sprint's.

New hire
Riney today announced the hiring of Michael Goefft, 52, as senior vice president and group account director on the Sprint business.

Mergers are familiar ground to Mr. Goefft, who was senior vice president and group client leader on the $100 million global Chevron Texaco account at WPP Group's Young & Rubicam, San Francisco, and worked through the oil giant's merger and subsequent account review following consolidation.

"Mike's experience running large global accounts and managing a business through a merger will be invaluable in our continued efforts to deliver smart, effective work to Sprint," said Karen Francis, chairman-CEO at Publicis & Hal Riney.

Mr. Goefft will partner with James Gassel in co-managing the agency's Sprint account.

The shop developed a long-running campaign featuring the spokesman in a black trench coat known as the Sprint man.

Riney’s rival, TBWA
Riney faces stiff competition as Nextel's agency, TBWA/Chiat/Day of New York, also braces to keep or gain a share of the combined account. TBWA's campaign for Nextel is centered on the word "Done."

The agency’s big guns are centered on the account, including Lee Clow, chairman and worldwide creative officer; John Hunt, worldwide creative director, and Gerry Graf, executive creative director in New York.

Nextel marketing chief
So far, both telcoms have declined to discuss agency arrangements while they await government approval of the merger. While it has been rumored that most of the marketing functions will remain at the Kansas offices, where Riney has worked with Sprint executives for a number of years, Sprint has announced that Mark Schweitzer, senior vice president of marketing for Nextel, and chief caretaker of Nextel's Nascar sponsorship, will be the combined company’s new chief marketing officer.

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