Another shoe has dropped in Sprint’s ongoing assessment of its agency roster.
In early December, the giant telecom company shifted creative and digital duties on the $1 billion account without a review to a Publicis Groupe dedicated unit called Team Sprint, which is led by Digitas. The lead creative assignment shifted from Omnicom’s Goodby Silverstein & Partners to Leo Burnett.
Now, after a series of discussions, the client is also shifting traditional media duties to Publicis Groupe. The incumbent is WPP’s Mindshare.
In a memo to the troops issued Friday, Mindshare’s North American CEO Antony Young stated that although the termination is not yet official, “the discussions on scope and the rumors that we continue to hear suggest that Sprint is committed to another solution within a Team Sprint/Publicis Groupe.”
In the memo, obtained by MediaPost, Young stated that while the shift is “hugely disappointing…We truly believe that this decision had nothing to do with our quality of work. In fact, our most recent rating from this client was the highest score we ever got.”
The memo did not state why the business was shifting, but sources familiar with the situation said that it was primarily due to Sprint’s new CMO Bill Malloy wanting to put his own stamp on the process as quickly as possible. “Clearly, he is cleaning house,” a source said. “His agenda is to undo everything his predecessor did.”
A Sprint rep didn’t return a query seeking comment. Agency reps couldn’t be reached or didn’t return queries.
There will be a nearly three-month transition phase for the Sprint assignment to shift from Mindshare to Publicis Groupe. “We have an obligation to support the Sprint business in the interim, and we are wholly committed to this,” Young stated.
The Mindshare CEO also expressed optimism that many of the 80-plus full-time staff people on the Sprint business will move to other assignments within the agency or the broader GroupM portfolio. “We are continually planning for the changes in our volume of work,” he stated. “As such, over time, we should be able to absorb many of the available positions."
The telecom giant, which includes the Virgin Mobile and Boost brands, is “only one of 60-plus client businesses we handle,” Young stated. “ Our goal will be to replace the Sprint business as quickly as possible, while making sure that we continue to take care of all remaining Mindshare clients.”
With the addition of the Sprint business, Publicis Groupe is adding to its swelling roster of telecom players, which includes Verizon, T-Mobile, Cellular South and U.S. Cellular.