Ackerman McQueen Connects

Ackerman McQueen has been awarded the ad account of NEC America’s wireless division.

The Dallas office of the Oklahoma City-based agency won the creative and media planning and buying account following a review that included undisclosed regional contenders. Billings are undisclosed. There was no incumbent.

The mobile phone manufacturer put its account into review in preparation for re-entering the U.S. market. NEC exited the domestic arena in March 2000 as wireless carriers were switching to digital from analog service. The company continued to sell its products throughout Asia and Europe and revved up research and development at its Irving, Texas, headquarters.

NEC is relaunching in the U.S. with technology for the GSM/GPRS protocol, which supports the next generation of wireless service called 2.5G. This advanced technology transfers data at faster speeds, enabling an always-on connection to the Internet.

NEC, which is pursuing partnerships with wireless carriers, plans to launch its product in the first quarter of 2003.

Ackerman McQueen will break a brand campaign around that time, the client said. Work will consist of both consumer and business-to-business advertising.

Prior to the latest review, the agency was awarded the account of NEC’s consumer portal, which will offer premium content. “Promoting the portal will be a big piece of the launch strategy,” said client vice president of marketing José Sosa.

Sosa and his team subsequently awarded Ackerman McQueen the brand assignment based on its understanding of NEC’s desired positioning. “They seemed to be large enough to be able to accommodate a lot of different services and small enough to give us the service we wanted,” Sosa said. “When we presented the whole concept to them, they came back with a clear understanding of what we were looking for.”

Sosa could not discuss details of NEC’s new positioning, but David Lipson, the agency’s creative director and managing director, said, “It’s a position [NEC] says competitors haven’t seen yet.”

The upcoming launch is expected to involve television, print and outdoor media. It has not been determined whether the advertising campaign will be targeted nationally or to areas where a future carrier partner has strong penetration, Lipson said.

NEC America, an affiliate of Tokyo-based NEC Corp., competes against global telecom players such as Ericsson, Motorola and Nokia.