Competing telecom brands continued to collide like so many atoms via another wave of mergers and acquisitions, this time Sprint with Nextel and Cingular with AT&T Wireless. Both mergers began in 2004 and closed this year, triggering the inevitable reshuffling of agency assignments. In 2004, Cingular consolidated its creative duties at BBDO without a review. This year was all about the media. But instead of consolidating at a single shop, the client split buying between AT&T Wireless shop Mediaedge:cia (broadcast) and Cingular shop OMD (print). Sprint’s acquisition of Nextel set the stage for a West Coast–East Coast shootout between Sprint lead shop Publicis & Hal Riney in San Francisco and Nextel’s TBWA\Chiat\Day in New York. Going in, TBWA\C\D appeared to have an edge: Nextel marketing chief Mark Schweitzer had been designated CMO for SprintNextel. That said, the agency pulled out all the stops, even getting Lee Clow to act out one of the spots they pitched, which later became part of the launch campaign. (In the spot, an old man seated at a diner counter says of Sprint’s network: “It’s big, powerful. I’d leave it alone.”) TBWA\C\D walked away with the top prizes: the launch and consumer duties. Publicis & Hal Riney hung on, though, picking up business-to-business duties.
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