Monday, January 8, 2007

Sprint Looking for New Advertising

Citing a need for "fresh thinking," Sprint, which spends $1.6 billion in marketing, has placed the creative portion of its advertising account into review. Sprint said it is seeking an ad agency that can provide it with a 'differentiated message.' Company spokeswoman Mary Nell Westbrook said Sprint informed its long-term agencies, TBWA/Chiat/Day, New York, which handles consumer advertising, and Publicis & Hal Riney, San Francisco, its agency for business-to-business advertising, that it is "open to any options to bring us back to a competitive position" in the wireless marketplace.

After Sprint acquired Nextel in the summer of 2005, the merged company kept both incumbent shops and divided duties between them. A spokeswoman for Publicis & Hal Riney said the agency was assessing whether it would participate in the review. The agency developed the black trenchcoat-wearing "Sprint guy" (played by actor Brian Baker) who espoused the virtues of the wireless service in more than 150 ads from 1999 to 2005. He was dropped after TBWA won the consumer account following a pitch. In the fall, TBWA developed ads featuring actor Ron Livingston discussing the Sprint network in a straightfoward, plain-talking manner as part of a "Power Up" branding strategy.

Westbrook said the wireless service provider is looking for a "differentiated message" as "one element of many when we look at regaining our momentum in the marketplace." She said the company would release a shortlist within a few weeks. The goal is to have an agency by the end of the first quarter, possibly in March or April.

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