California Agencies Make Telecom Finals

LOS ANGELES Leap Wireless International has cut to three agencies in the review for its estimated $15-20 million creative and media account, sources said.

The finalists are: Interpublic Group shop Suissa Miller in Los Angeles and independents Butler, Shine & Stern in Sausalito, Calif., and Bernstein-Rein in Kansas City, Mo., sources said.

Agencies that did not advance include Interpublic’s Austin Kelley Advertising in Atlanta and independent O’Leary & Partners in Irvine, Calif., according to sources. MARC USA in Pittsburgh pulled out of the review due to a conflict with client Centennial Wireless, and Interpublic’s Campbell-Ewald in Santa Monica, Calif., chose not to participate due to the timing of the review and its current workload, sources said.

Agency officials either declined comment or could not be reached.

The four-year incumbent, the Johnson Group in Chattanooga, Tenn., did not participate in the review.

Select Resources International in West Hollywood, Calif., is leading the review. The consultant declined comment. The client in San Diego could not immediately be reached.

Presentations are expected to take place later this month, with a decision before Labor Day.

Leap, spun off from Qualcomm in 1998, filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection in April. Its subsidiary, Cricket Communications, offers unlimited flat-rate local calling and has 1.5 million customers in 40 markets in 20 states.