AT&T Places Call For Media Review, Five Incumbents Will Pitch

AT&T, the nation's biggest provider in the red hot telecommunications sector, Tuesday confirmed plans to conduct a review to consolidate its disparate media services accounts from five big agencies to just one. All five incumbents - Publicis' Digitas unit, Omnicom's GSD&M, WPP's Mediaedge:cia, Omnicom's OMD and Interpublic's Initiative have been invited to pitch.

The size of the account was not clear. AT&T spent an estimated $500 million during the first quarter, according to syndicated research data, and some trade reports have put billings for the consolidated account as high as $3 billion, but the telecommunications marketer is expected to downsize its media spending as it phases out the consolidation of the AT&T and Cingular brands that propelled much of its advertising over the past year.

In a statement, AT&T also indicated that it expected cost savings and media buying efficiencies to result from the media account review: "This move will consolidate all of AT&T's media planning and buying at one agency and is part of the company's ongoing efforts to maximize efficiencies created, in part, by AT&T's acquisition of BellSouth at the end of last year."



In recent years, AT&T has shifted its focus from its traditional long distance "land line" business into one of the world's biggest wireless carriers, as well as a major player in broadband and television services.

AT&T said a decision was due by the end of the year. AT&T's history with Mediaedge:cia, which stems back to when the media shop was part of long-time AT&T shop N.W. Ayer & Sons, is one of the longest media buying relationships ever.

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