Arnold McGrath Loses Rest of AT&T Broadband Biz

NEW YORK — AT&T Broadband, the cable operation that three weeks ago agreed to merge with Comcast, has ended its five-year relationship with Arnold McGrath. The New York-based agency’s contract expired recently and was not renewed, sources said.

At the height of its tenure at Arnold, the account was worth an estimated $40 million in billings, sources said. Arnold referred calls to the client, who declined comment.

The agency lost its grip on the account during the past year, as the Denver-based client sought ideas elsewhere. Last year, The Richards Group in Dallas was tapped for project-based work, which resulted in a spot highlighting the company’s DSL services.

In August, AT&T Broadband hired Kirshenbaum Bond & Partners in New York to review its marketing strategies. That relationship was expanded in December when The Media Kitchen, Kirshenbaum’s media unit, landed a planning and buying assignment for the client. Wunderman continues to handle direct marketing and last year created some spots for the client. Nancy McGee is acting svp of marketing at AT&T Broadband, a position she took over when Doug Seserman left in April of last year.

The $72 billion merger of AT&T Broadband and Comcast, which will create a cable giant with more than 22 million subscribers, is expected to take 9-12 months to complete. In the interim, AT&T Broadband will continue its marketing efforts, said client representative Tracy Baumgartner, who declined to elaborate.

It’s too premature to determine what the merger will mean for the combined company’s agencies, sources said. Comcast uses Red Tettemer in Narberth, Pa., for its cable advertising, and Earle Palmer Brown in Philadelphia for its business ads. According to CMR, AT&T Broadband spent $40 million on measured media in 2000 and $55 million for the first eight months of 2001. Comcast spent about half that amount?$25 million?for both time periods.