With the completion of the Bell Atlantic and Nynex merger, among the many details to sort is the direction and management of the telcos' online activities. Bell Atlantic chief executive Ray Smith has laid out a consolidation plan for the main services and products of the companies, so their interactive sides should be ripe for sorting out. Or not.
"Never say never, but we like to have different skill sets and different opinions," said a Bell Atlantic official of potential interactive combinations.
For now, the online advertising for Nynex and Bell Atlantic services will remain with the agency that handles its media advertising. In special cases, new media shops will be called in to carry out a campaign. Internally, the company's advertising department, headed by Jan Keeler, will lead online sponsorship efforts, except where the operating units themselves prefer to handle the advertising.
Bell Atlantic's Internet division, which falls under its Information Services Group, will focus on electronic commerce and BigYellow, the online directory launched by Nynex in 1996. The site is now called Bell Atlantic BigYellow. Since its start, an average of $2 million per year in online ads have supported BigYellow. Easton Media Group, based in Easton, Conn., does BigYellow's online media placement and strategic alliances.
Last month, Saatchi & Saatchi resigned the main Bell Atlantic consumer account. But its new media unit, Darwin Digital, retains two Bell Atlantic online clients, for its network solutions and small business divisions. Bell Atlantic has said it will parcel out general media and account service assignments to a variety of shops.