Sprint Finally Says Yes, Deutsch L.A. Is Our New Lead Agency

Telco spends $450 million annually on broadcast ads

As expected, Deutsch L.A. has taken the lead on national television advertising for Sprint, which spends $450 million in broadcast media annually.

The news from the nation's No. 3 telecommunications company is somewhat anticlimatic as the Interpublic Group shop had already started producing ads for the brand. Still, the massive account is a huge windfall for Deutsch, coming on the heels of adding Pizza Hut during the summer. Revenue on the Sprint business is estimated at $30 million.

The hire concludes a review that began in September and was managed by Mercer Island Group in Seattle. The other finalist was Havas' Arnold in Boston. Sprint told Arnold in November that it wasn't getting the business, leaving Deutsch as the remaining finalist. So, it took nearly as long for the agency to finalize a contract than it took to pitch the account.

"We went through an intense selection process, and we are confident in the capabilities of our new partner," said Sprint chief marketing officer Jeff Hollock. "They are a major asset to add to our agency roster."

Deutsch L.A. succeeds Figliulo & Partners in New York on the assignment. The new lead agency also works for the likes of Taco Bell, Volkswagen of America and Target. And to take on Sprint, the shop plans to hire up to 120 staffers, which would bring its headcount to 630, making it one of the largest players on the West Coast, according to CEO Mike Sheldon. "Not bad for a ragtag bunch of seven" that opened in L.A. in 1997, said Sheldon.

As for the challenge of taking on behomoths like AT&T and Verizon, the CEO said, "It's always more fun to be the challenger" because "it brings out the best in strategists and creative people."