SmarTalk Dials Shops

SmarTalk has begun a search for an ad agency to handle creative and media duties, keeping in line with the current trend of telecommunications companies conducting reviews.
Approximately 15 West Coast shops have been contacted regarding the estimated $10 million account, sources said.
Among the agencies contacted are Cohen/Johnson and Asher/Gould, both in Los Angeles, and The Leap Partnership and Deutsch, both in Santa Monica, Calif. Agency executives declined comment.
The telecommunications client is looking for an agency to develop its first branding campaign, according to sources.
Questionnaires are due back to the Advertising Agency Register, the New York consultancy handling the review, by Sept. 12. The AAR confirmed the review but declined to give details regarding the search or the agencies involved. There is no incumbent on the account.
The questionnaire sent to the shops requested agency billings, client roster and other qualifications, according to a source.
Agencies should have new-product experience and be “able to create consumer desire, rather than fill an existing need,” according to the questionnaire. The client is also searching for a shop with some technology background, as well as retail, direct mail, sales promotion and collateral experience.
SmarTalk recently issued an initial public offering and has been exploring company acquisition possibilities, sources said.
SmarTalk, based in Westwood, Calif., provides telecommunications services and manufactures, sells and distributes prepaid telephone calling cards to consumers.
SmarTalk vice president of marketing Lauren Becker, formerly vice president of marketing for Blockbuster Music, is handling the review on the client side. –with Jennifer Comiteau