Sprint Down to 5 in Creative Search

Final contenders' meeting next week in $450 million review

The search for a new creative lead on Sprint's business, which kicked off in late summer, has moved quickly with five agencies meeting with client executives next week before a last cut, sources said.

Still in the running are Crispin Porter + Bogusky; Deutsch LA; Arnold; Kirshenbaum Bond Senecal + Partners; and Saatchi & Saatchi, according to sources. After next week’s meeting, Sprint is expected to narrow the field to two agencies for a final round before making a selection.

Execs at those agencies either could not be reached or referred calls to Sprint, which declined to comment.

It’s a wide range of choices for a telecommunications company that last worked with Team Sprint, a unit comprised of Publicis Groupe agencies and led by DigitasLBi. While the digital shop initially worked with corporate sibling Leo Burnett, which produced TV spots, late last year the marketer moved that assignment to startup Figliulo & Partners. (Arc/Leo Burnett continues to handle Sprint’s shopper marketing.)

The new list of contenders ranges from agencies on both coasts, some of which are relatively small shops like Crispin compared to global networks like Saatchi. While some have no related category experience, others like Deutsch LA have been working with smartphone manufacturers like Taiwan’s HTC.

The review is said to be focused on above-the-line marketing, much of which is spent on TV.

The telecom spent more than $765 million on media last year, including $448 million on TV time, according to Kantar Media. And in the first quarter of this year, $138 million of Sprint's total $188 million spend went toward TV.