SBC Pulls $80 Mil. Buying Account From Carat in Consolidation
CHICAGO--SBC Communications is consolidating the $80 million Ameritech media buying account at GSD&M, the client confirmed.
The Austin, Texas, agency already handles buying for SBC's Southwestern Bell and Pacific Bell units. With Ameritech added, total billings are some $300 million. GSD&M is also lead creative agency for Southwestern Bell.
The Ameritech business will move from Carat ICG, which won it in 1997, in 90 days.
GSD&M's 36-person Chicago office is expected to add 10 staffers and will share the business with Austin. Chicago already buys for SBC's Cellular One and for DreamWorks SKG, a $100 million business it won last March in a pitch led by president Roy Spence and executive media director Judy Trabulsi.
Agency officials declined comment. An SBC representative said the move was made for efficiency's sake.
Consolidation had been expected since SBC completed its $62 million takeover of the Midwest regional Bell in October. Ameritech's marketing division was subsequently moved to SBC's San Antonio, Texas, headquarters.
The media shift may not bode well for Ameritech's lead creative agency, Lowe Lintas & Partners in Chicago. Agency president Brad Brinegar directed calls to the client.
Carat general manager Susan Rowe could not be reached. The shop opened in Chicago to handle Ameritech, but in the past year won $40 million in new billings.
In 1997, GSD&M was the big winner in SBC's acquisition of Pacific Telesis. The shop at the time was awarded buying for Southwestern Bell and Pacific Bell, and later picked up SBC's SNET in Connecticut.
Building up media has been part of the shop's growth strategy. In 1995, it surprised the industry by nabbing MasterCard's $180 million media business.
SBC spent $211 million on advertising in 1998 and $164 million through September of 1999, per Competitive Media Reporting.
--with staff report