Globalstar Picks 3 To Pitch In U.S.

AirTouch Satellite Services has selected three undisclosed agencies to compete in a review for its estimated $50 million ad account. The prevailing shop will produce ads for the Globalstar satellite communications system in the U.S.
Karen Gilligan, vice president of marketing for Walnut Creek, Calif.-based ATSS, confirmed the company had selected finalists after talking with about 10 agencies over the past few weeks. “We’re in the process of selecting an agency now,” she said.
Slated to launch in late 1998, Globalstar will utilize a network of 48 low earth-orbit satellites and 50 land-based “gateways” to allow users to make and receive phone calls from any region–even in countries where there are no land-based telephone systems.
While Gilligan declined to comment on the finalist agencies, sources said two shops well-placed to pitch the business are TBWA Chiat/ Day’s Venice, Calif., office, which handles AirTouch Cellular in the U.S., and Grey Advertising’s New York office, which won Globalstar L.P.’s $5 million corporate image global account earlier this year.
ATSS’ “goal” is to select one shop, said Gilligan, although she left open the possibility that the business could be broken into advertising, direct marketing and public relations portions, all handled by different shops.
ATSS parent AirTouch Communications and 11 other telecommunications and aerospace companies formed Globalstar L.P. in 1991. In return for its equity stake in the $800 million consortium, AirTouch received the exclusive rights to market the service in the U.S., Canada, Mexico, the Caribbean, Indonesia and Japan.
The three finalist agencies also will be asked to present ideas on handling the business in ATSS’ foreign markets, Gilligan said. Overseas, ATSS will work with its local partners to pick shops on a “country-by-country basis,” she said. ATSS’ hard-sell ads will be “coordinated” with Grey’s corporate efforts, she added.
Separately, Globalstar has started a review to find an agency in Brazil in which Grey is participating, said Reid Stephenson, vice president of marketing for the San Jose, Calif.-based company. Globalstar is “encouraging” its overseas operators to work with Grey’s local offices in their markets, he said.
Globalstar competitor Iridium LLC recently awarded its estimated $50 million account to Ammirati Puris Lintas in New York after a review. Similar to Globalstar, Iridium is launching 66 satellites to form a global satellite-based telephone system, which will become operational in September 1998. –with Angela Dawson