Wireless Provider to Bernstein-Rein

CHICAGO Bernstein-Rein said it has won creative duties on regional wireless carrier SunCom’s $25 million advertising account.

The assignment had previously been at MDC Partners’ Margeotes Fertitta Powell.

Kansas City, Mo.-based Bernstein-Rein will now handle advertising and direct-response chores for SunCom, which provides digital wireless services to about 1 million customers in several Southern states, as well as in Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands.

“From all the top-notch agencies we considered, Bernstein-Rein was the best choice for SunCom,” said Larry Britt, vice president of marketing at the Berwyn, Pa., client. “They know consumers, have the perfect combination of brand and retail expertise and are a fully integrated shop.”

Contenders for the account could not immediately be determined. New York-based MFP did not defend the business. The Mercer Island Group in Seattle conducted the review.

Recent spots for the company featured Grammy-winning vocalist Harry Connick Jr. and were directed by Robert Altman. “Truth in wireless” was the tagline for the campaign, which was launched in early 2005.

In addition to naming a new agency, the company also appointed Jane Passantino executive director of advertising and brand management. In the job, Passantino will direct and manage the relationship with Bernstein-Rein, as well as oversee strategic and tactical direction of the company’s advertising, research, marketing communications and brand management. Prior to joining SunCom, Passantino was a marketing executive at Gore-Tex. She has also worked at Lucent and AT&T.

The win is a big morale boost for independent Bernstein-Rein, which is set to end its 32-year relationship with core client Wal-Mart at the end of this month.

SunCom spent nearly $25 million in measured media in 2005 and just over $15 million in the first nine months of 2006, per Nielsen Monitor-Plus.