Lucent Spinoff to See Six for $60 Mil. Account

Executives of a Lucent Technologies spinoff that will market voice-technology products, plan to visit six agencies in the next two weeks before drawing up a list of finalists to pitch an estimated $60 million ad account, sources said.
Agencies believed to be on the client’s list to visit include: BBDO Worldwide, DDB Worldwide, Young & Rubicam and Deutsch, all in New York, as well as Leo Burnett, Chicago, and FCB, San Francisco, sources said.
After the visits, described by sources as chemistry and credentials checks, the spinoff will select three to four finalists to pitch the business, which includes both creative and media duties. The company, temporarily called New Co., hopes to select an agency in May.
The consultant managing the review, Richard Roth Associates, referred questions to New Co., which declined comment. Lucent is based in Murray Hill, N.J.
A handful of other agencies were contacted–including Merkley Newman Harty, Ogilvy & Mather, Arnold Communications, Kirshenbaum Bond & Partners and Mullen–but decided not to pursue the business. For some, the account posed a potential conflict.
For example, Merkley works for BellSouth, which has a wireless business that may compete with
the spinoff. Others cited a heavy workload.
New Co. is looking for its own shop and therefore is not considering McCann-Erickson Worldwide, the lead agency for Lucent, sources said.
McCann’s most recent ads position the company as a “reliable” provider of products that drive businesses and employ the tagline, “We make the things that make communications work.”
Last year, Lucent spent more than $30 million on measured media, according to Competitive Media Reporting–about the same as in 1998 but down from a high of $60 million in 1996.