By Stephen Levine
NEW YORK–Qwest Communications, a Denver-based telecommunications company that hopes to build the fifth major fiber optic network in the United States, has hired Peter Kim’s Bright Sun consultancy to plan its advertising and marketing.
Qwest president and chief executive officer Joe Nacchio, a former AT&T executive vice president whom Qwest hired in December, confirmed the move last week. ‘We need to get the brand established,’ Nacchio said. ‘Peter is helping me think that through.’
Neither Nacchio nor Kim would comment on billings, but Kim said there will be a ‘significant eight-figure’ ad budget at the startup.
Qwest currently provides long-distance telephone service to about 170,000 consumer, business and wholesale customers, but its real potential is in the nationwide fiber optic network it is building, Nacchio said.
Nacchio believes Qwest is more than just a telecommunications company that may one day rival its established competitors. The state-of-the-art network, based on a Lucent Technologies design, is unrivaled by those owned by AT&T, Sprint, MCI or Worldcom, Nacchio said.
Qwest predicts that when the next 18 months of construction are completed its network will service 80 percent of the nation.
Kim, who headed McCann-Erickson’s 14th Floor strategic unit before leaving to start Bright Sun this year, had worked with Nacchio on the AT&T account and called him about working on Qwest.
The challenge is taking ‘a $2 billion company’ into the ‘$200 billion’ telecommunications fray, Kim said. ‘It’s the project of a lifetime,’ he said, to ‘develop a brand from scratch.’
Kim said Bright Sun currently has four accounts, including Qwest and Exxon USA, but intends to handle no more than a half-dozen clients. The shop employs about 20 full-time staffers and has been in business about seven weeks, he said.
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