Saatchi’s Integrated Pitch Lures $60 Mil. Account

Saatchi & Saatchi here has landed creative and media duties for Prism Communication Services, a New York Internet-service provider that offers simultaneous voice and data connections via existing phone lines. Billings are estimated at $60 million.
Saatchi bested two other finalists–Dallas-based incumbent The Richards Group and an undisclosed other–for the business, according to the client. In addition to traditional advertising, Saatchi will provide Web ads and direct marketing via affiliates Darwin Digital and Lieber Levett Koenig Farese Babcock, respectively.
Media duties will be handled by an outside media buyer, since Saatchi’s media arm, Zenith Media Services, handles rival Bell Atlantic. The agency is in the process of soliciting candidates.
Prism, which markets its services under the brand name Red and plans an initial public offering this year, was impressed by Saatchi’s integrated pitch–steered by vice chairman Tony Dalton–as well as its work for Provident insurance, Procter & Gamble’s Tide and former client Bell Atlantic, said Dennis Kruse, chief marketing officer at Prism.
With plans to expand to 33 markets this year, Kruse said, “We needed an agency that was, No. 1, large enough and whose focus was on integrated communications.”
Red’s previous advertising touted speed, service and simplicity, with the tagline, “Red means go.” That line may change, but ads will continue to target small- and medium-sized businesses, said Debra Niewald, Prism vice president of corporate marketing and communications.
The new account is another step toward the agency’s goal of diversifying its client base, which is rich with packaged-goods brands, said Jennifer Laing, the agency’s North American chairman and CEO.
Separately, Saatchi is a finalist in J.C. Penney’s $100 million account review, along with BBDO Worldwide, DDB Worldwide, FCB Worldwide and McCann-Erickson Worldwide. “I want to balance my portfolio,” said Laing, who described Prism as “innovative” and “fast-moving.” She added: “Isn’t that exciting? What a great way to start out the year.