Sprint Launches Agency Review

Months after the CEO of parent Softbank harshly criticized its advertising effort, Sprint is conducting an agency review, sources confirm.

The review is focused on TV creative advertising, which is currently handled by Figliulo & Partners, which has handled the assignment since late last year. The shop replaced Leo Burnett, which still handles certain “below-the-line” chores like in-store and retail, which are not part of the review.

Nearly 60% -- or about $450 million of Sprint's 2013 advertising expenditures -- were earmarked for TV, according to Kantar. The company's total measured media spending last year amounted to $765 million, per the ad tracker.

The review comes after recent management changes at Sprint including most recently a CEO switch — Dan Hesse was replaced by Brightstar chief Marcelo Claure last month. Last fall, new CMO Jeff Hallock came on board.

In January Softbank CEO Masayoshi Son blasted Sprint’s advertising effort in a guest column written for Nikkei Asian Review, in which Son said that “Sprint spends a large amount of money on advertising every year, but its effects have been almost negligible.”

For now, only the creative TV advertising assignment is under review, per sources. Starcom MediaVest Group continues to handle media and sibling agency DigitasLBi remains the company’s digital agency.

A Sprint rep declined to comment on what he termed "speculation" about the review. The agencies either declined to comment or couldn’t be immediately reached.

Word of the agency review also comes a short time after Sprint ended its pursuit of a merger with rival T-Mobile. The two competitors are now once again engaged in a price-cutting war in a bid to steal each other’s customers.

This story has been updated with 2013 ad spending figures for Sprint from Kantar.

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