Bronner To Get A Boost

Bronner Slosberg Humphrey expects to pick up direct marketing duties for TCI Communications once the buyout by AT&T is complete, sources said.
Bronner, already lead direct shop for AT&T, is preparing for an influx of billings in its Boston headquarters after the $37 billion deal, expected to be finalized in the next few weeks, according to sources. One source said the gain could be as high as $50 million.
Several key questions remain, however. It is unclear whether AT&T will continue to operate TCI, the nation’s largest cable operator, as a stand-alone brand. That decision likely will have a significant effect on spending levels, said sources.
“This is only good news for us. I feel bullish about where we’re heading,” said Bronner president David Kenny. He referred specific questions to AT&T representative Stephen Graham, who said it was “premature” to talk about agency assignments. TCI officials could not be reached by press time.
Separately, Austin, Texas-based Dell Computer Corp., which last year hired Bronner’s Strategic Interactive Group, will implement increasingly “aggressive” spending plans in its online business, according to a Dell representative.
“It’s growing,” Kenny said of the Dell business. “They’re ramping up with us,” and direct projects designed to drive customers to the client’s online sales apparatus are in the offing, he said.
Staffing at Bronner’s West Coast operations–counting both Sansome Group and SIG–has more than doubled in the past six months. Together, the San Francisco-based subsidiaries have increased billings from $25 million to nearly $60 million and are in the process of filling 60 open positions, Kenny said.
To help oversee that growth, some executive moves are being made. Jay Hussey has been appointed managing director of SIG. In addition, a full-time Sansome president, to succeed acting president Reuben Hendell, is expected to be named as early as this week, Kenny said.
Sansome already handles direct marketing chores for U.S. Satellite Broadcasting, St. Paul, Minn. DirecTV, Long Beach, Calif., is in the process of buying USSB for $1.3 billion.
Agency executives anticipate adding some DirecTV assignments once the buyout of USSB is finalized and believe they can juggle potential conflicts between DirecTV and TCI by handling the accounts in separate offices on opposite coasts, sources said.
Bronner and its subsidiaries are not the only ones with something at stake once the buyouts of USSB and TCI are complete.
AT&T has numerous roster agencies, lead by Young & Rubicam, New York. Also, Jordan McGrath Case & Partners, New York, handles TCI’s $50 million ad account and could be in jeopardy once the buyout is complete, along with undisclosed regional shops that handle direct and other assignments for TCI, sources said. Jordan McGrath officials did not return calls.
Campbell-Ewald in Los Angeles handles advertising and Direct Partners, also in Los Angeles, handles direct marketing chores for DirecTV. Those assignments are believed to total more than $150 million in combined billings. Ogilvy & Mather, New York, handles the $50 million USSB advertising account.
While no final decisions have been made, agency consolidations involving those shops are in the offing, said sources. Officials at DirecTV and its agencies did not return calls.
–with Teresa Buyikian
and Justin Dini