DALLAS - Following a path well-trodden by the likes of U S West, SBC, GTE, SNET, Ameritech and Bell Atlantic, telecom startup Level 3 Communications is screening at least three shops in a review for its inaugural advertising effort.
A budget has not been set, but sources said initial billings could be $30 million or more. Shops competing for the account, according to sources, include DDB Needham in Dallas, Leo Burnett in Chicago and Winkler Advertising in San Francisco. The review timetable was unclear at press time. Level 3 officials in Omaha, Neb., did not return calls and agency executives either declined comment or could not be reached.
Earlier this year, Level 3 revealed plans to build and operate a fiber-optic communications network across the U.S. Level 3 claims its network will provide local and long-distance voice and data service at dramatically lower costs than existing circuit-switched systems. The network is scheduled for completion in three years. The company plans to begin providing some services in up to six U.S. cities by the end of 1998. Level 3 will concentrate on business customers and compete head-on with regional Bell companies.
Level 3's plans will also pit the company against MediaOne's broadband network in a race to sign up new customers. MediaOne also delivers cable TV, telephone and Internet services over a fiber-optic line. MediaOne claims its service is 50 times faster than "dial-up" Internet access providers such as America Online. MediaOne is handled by Margeotes/Fertitta + Partners in New York, which conjured the tagline, "This is broadband. This is the way."
Among the other pieces of telco business currently in play are U S West's branding account, a direct marketing assignment from GTE and Bell Atlantic's media responsibilities.
Until this year, Level 3 operated as Kiewit Diversified Group, a subsidiary of Omaha-based Peter Kiewit Sons. Kiewit reportedly plans to provide more than $2.5 billion in funding for Level 3. - with Jane Irene Kelly