AT&T Media Contest Begins

NEW YORK Phone giant AT&T is conducting a review to consolidate media planning and buying for both its landline and wireless services at one of its roster shops, the client confirmed today.

The company spent $2.3 billion in U.S. measured media in 2006, according to TNS Media Intelligence.

In a statement, the client said it would be issuing an RFP “to its incumbent media agencies seeking a single-agency solution to manage the company’s media planning and buying.”

The incumbents include Omnicom’s GSD&M, which handles all media planning and buying (including digital) for the AT&T landline service; Interpublic’s Initiative, which handles media chores for the nine-state Southern region, formerly known as Bell South, which AT&T acquired late last year; and WPP’s Mediaedge:cia, which does planning and buying for AT&T Wireless (formerly known as Cingular). Print media chores on AT&T Wireless are with Omnicom’s OMD and digital duties are handled by Publicis Groupe’s Digitas.

A client rep said the consolidation review was prompted by the Bell South acquisition and the desire to “maximize efficiencies under a single-agency model.”

Select Resources International, Santa Monica, Calif., is conducting the review.

The RFP is being issued in “the coming weeks,” the rep said, indicating that the client hopes to complete the process by year’s end.

The rep said that non-roster shops were not being invited to pitch. “We feel that we have a world-class group of agencies and we are pleased with their work,” said the rep. “We just want to optimize our media assets under the
single-agency model.”