AT&T Shifts Lead Role to BBDO

LOS ANGELES AT&T is in the process of shifting lead agency status on its estimated $2.3 billion ad account to Omnicom Group’s BBDO in New York from sibling GSD&M in Austin, Texas, per sources.

GSD&M’S team on the telecom account will now report to BBDO, and the latter will drive the brand’s overall creative direction, though no immediate changes in ad approach are planned, per sources.

GSD&M executives declined comment, and BBDO referred queries to the client.

An AT&T rep did not directly address an agency shift, but provided this response: “AT&T continues to work with its current roster of key advertising agencies. Our key advertising agencies have long collaborated and integrated planning and execution efforts in order to deliver decisive results for AT&T.”

The client spent more than $500 million in domestic measured media in the first quarter of 2007 after spending $2.3 billion on ads last year, per TNS Media Intelligence.

A 60-90 day transition period has begun as the shops work together to facilitate the leadership handoff to BBDO, sources said.

BBDO is gaining the pole position because AT&T, following its union with Cingular Wireless, wants a more global network than GSD&M can provide, per sources.

At present, vice presidents Jeff Nixon and Dave Stanton remain lead creatives on GSD&M’S portion of the business, sources said.

GSD&M has been lead agency on AT&T, with BBDO supporting Cingular Wireless, though the latter’s identity is being quickly merged into the overall AT&T brand. (AT&T had owned 60 percent of Cingular, while BellSouth owned the rest. AT&T gained sole ownership as 2006 came to a close when the company completed its BellSouth acquisition.)

GSD&M’s recent efforts have been tagged “Your world. Delivered,” and have sought to communicate the scope of offerings the combined company provides. Independent Rogers/Townsend in St. Louis, a shop that has also fashioned branding ads, remains on the roster.