DDB’s Tribal Worldwide Wins AT&T U.S. Social Account, Opens 2 New Offices

New business will be run out of New York, Dallas and Los Angeles

Fleishman Hillard previously ran social media for the brand's properties. Getty Images

Tribal Worldwide, a division of Omnicom-owned DDB Worldwide, has been named corporate social media agency of record in the U.S. for AT&T following a review that began around late February or early March. The assignment begins effective immediately.

Tribal is opening offices in Dallas and Los Angeles to service the client. An agency spokeswoman said Tribal is initially looking to hire 20 people across the two offices in account management, strategy, community management, creative and production, but it will evaluate additional staffing needs at the start of 2019.

The account will also be run out of Tribal’s New York headquarters.

“AT&T is one of the most iconic brands and most dynamic in the world,” Rich Guest, global digital officer, evp and global business director of DDB Group, said in a statement. “Our best thinking and excitement during the review was a direct result of AT&T’s opportunity to become a force in social media—driving both sales and talk value. Tribal Worldwide and the whole of DDB are excited to help AT&T achieve these objectives.”

The agency will utilize the “Flex” model DDB introduced in 2016 on the AT&T account, which essentially means it will lean on various offices within the network, pulling resources and talent when necessary.

Tribal will be responsible for managing AT&T’s editorial social presence, which includes creative, strategy, tone, personality, content framework and storytelling around the company’s brands including AT&T, AT&T Small Business, AT&T U-Verse, DirecTV, DirecTV Now and AT&T Innovation.

R3 co-founder and principal Greg Paull said AT&T’s total digital media spend is $150 million, and he estimated that “social is probably half that.”

Tribal has curated some social content for AT&T in the past, including videos around sponsored events like the U.S. Open Tennis Championships and the LoveLoud Festival in Utah (the latter of which was started by Imagine Dragons frontman Dan Reynolds to advocate for LGBTQ youth).

For the most part, though, AT&T’s social efforts were historically handled by PR and digital shop FleishmanHillard, according to sources close to the matter. It’s unclear if the agency was invited to pitch.

The sources said either two or three agencies competed for the account, including WPP’s VML.

Representatives for VML and FleishmanHillard did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

@kitten_mouse lindsay.rittenhouse@adweek.com Lindsay Rittenhouse is a staff writer at Adweek, where she specializes in covering the world of agencies and their clients.