AirTouch Puts Media Buying Account In Play

AirTouch Cellular has started a review to find a single shop to handle its $100 million-plus consolidated media buying account, the client confirmed last week.
San Francisco-based AirTouch is inviting shops on and off its agency roster. The account involves spot broadcast and local print, which is currently split among four shops. AirTouch has tapped consultancy Mitchell Madison Group in San Francisco to conduct the search.
Mitchell Madison executive Jeremy Desmon has sent requests for proposals to multiple shops, due back last Friday, said sources. Desmon would not comment. Kathy Reinhart, director of corporate communications at AirTouch, confirmed the review but would not elaborate.
AirTouch is conducting the evaluation to gain efficiencies. Last year, the company spent about $75 million advertising its cellular services, per Competitive Media Reporting. The questionnaire listed AirTouch’s spending at $100 million. The increase in billings, which could reach $120 million, sources said, is the result of AirTouch’s acquisition in April of MediaOne. That deal made Airtouch the largest wireless provider in the U.S.
AirTouch currently divides its U.S. media planning and buying into four regions, covering about one-third of the U.S. Bozell’s Detroit and Costa Mesa, Calif., offices handle buying for AirTouch markets in the Eastern and Southern U.S.; BBDO Minneapolis handles the West; and Mering & Associates, San Francisco, some of the Northwest, according to the rfp. Western International Media in Los Angeles also handles some buying chores.
TBWA Chiat/Day in Venice, Calif., handles creative and media buying for the client’s $30 million brand account. The agency, which sources said plans to participate in the review, recently won AirTouch Satellite Services’ Globalstar account, worth $20-30 million.
Sources said the client plans to invite “a small number of finalists” to make presentations on July 14. The client said the review does not include media planning or creative duties.