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TBWA\C\D to Launch Merged Sprint, Nextel

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NEW YORK Sprint and Nextel confirmed today it has selected Nextel lead agency TBWA\Chiat\Day to produce the launch campaign for the soon-to-be-merged company and, going forward, the Omnicom Group shop will handle all consumer-directed advertising. Business-focused ads will be assigned to Publicis Groupe's Publicis & Hal Riney, the lead shop for Sprint, the client said.

Collectively, the two brands spent more than $800 million in measured media last year, according to TNS Media Intelligence.

TBWA\C\D here and Publicis & Hal Riney in San Francisco, which could not immediately be reached, have been competing to handle the launch campaign for months. The effort is slated to break in August, when the merger is expected to be completed.

"The launch of the combined company will require an 'all-hands-on-deck' approach," said Mark Schweitzer, chief marketing officer of the new company and Nextel's current svp of marketing, in a statement. "Both agency partners have proven themselves invaluable in their thinking leading up to the merger, and we plan to leverage their combined assets to connect customers with the kinds of choice they've never had before."

In addition, Publicis' Frankel in Chicago has been tapped for promotions works.

The client has yet to finalize media buying duties for the combined brand. Publicis' Starcom MediaVest currently handles buying for Sprint, while WPP Group's Mindshare works Nextel.

Interactive, direct marketing and Hispanic chores also have yet to be awarded.

Sources said the client intends to make those assignments before the merger is finalized.