Vonage to Meet With 5 Finalists

BOSTON Vonage said it will meet with five finalists in the review for the company’s ad account. Estimated billings are $50-75 million.

In contention are Havas’ Arnold in Boston; Aegis Group’s Carat in New York; Interpublic Group shops Mullen in Wenham, Mass., and Lowe in New York (teamed with aQuantive’s Aveneue A/Razorfish); and Publicis Groupe’s Starcom MediaVest Group in Chicago, according to Dean Harris, Vonage’s chief marketing officer.

A decision is set for the middle of October following late-September presentations, Harris said.

The client initially contacted about 20 ad agencies, interactive shops and media buying services about its business, which has been split among New York independent Korey Kay & Partners, for traditional creative duties; Aegis Group’s Freestyle Interactive in Boston, for online creative and media duties; and Inter/Media Advertising in Encino, Calif., which handled offline media buying chores [Adweek Online, Aug. 5].

Harris said Vonage plans to consolidate all elements of the business at the winning agency.

Both in its RFP and its spending patterns, Vonage exhibits a preference for online advertising. In the first five months of 2004, Vonage spent $25 million on online ads, according to TNS Media Intelligence/CMR.

Spending on TV, radio and print has been modest: less than $5 million last year and less than $2 million in first-half 2004, per Nielsen Monitor-Plus. A spring TV and radio campaign from Korey Kay positioned Vonage as “Your telephone company’s worst nightmare.”

The client in Edison, N.J., provides VoIP (voice over Internet protocol) service designed to rival traditional telephone technology. Vonage, a privately held company, is on top in the segment with an estimated 220,000 customers, followed by Cablevision’s Optimum Voice, which has more than 100,000 customers. Vonage’s consumer base has nearly tripled since the end of 2003, when it had 83,000 users, according to the company.