Telecom Giant Altice Consolidates U.S. Marketing Business With WPP’s Wavemaker and Y&R

The company acquired Cablevision in 2016

Cristiano Ronaldo starred in the brand's most recent campaigns. Altice
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The U.S. division of international telecom conglomerate Altice has chosen WPP’s Wavemaker and Y&R as its media and creative agencies of record, according to several sources with direct knowledge of the matter.

The win came without a formal review, though sources say Wavemaker pitched against incumbent Horizon Media, which had managed the media business for approximately one year. Previously, Altice’s U.S. division did not have a creative agency of record.

Spokespeople for Wavemaker, Y&R and Horizon Media deferred to the client, which officially declined to comment.

According to Adweek’s sources, Altice first began working with Y&R in 2017, with the agency handling social media duties for a global campaign featuring soccer superstar Cristiano Ronaldo. This ad, like most of Altice’s previous international creative work, was produced in-house.

Ronaldo also starred in the company’s 2018 Super Bowl campaign, which ran under the Optimum brand with creative by Y&R and media by Wavemaker.

The same sources claim that Altice’s decision to end its relationship with Horizon came not due to any performance concerns but, rather, from a desire by global leadership to work with a “WPP solutions” group while expanding in the United States.

Negotiations with both Y&R and Wavemaker began late last year, but the MSA contract was finalized earlier this month.

Altice USA is a subsidiary of Netherlands-based Altice, which is the second-largest telecom provider in France. After acquiring Suddenlink Communications and Cablevision (along with its Optimum brand) in 2015 and 2016, respectively, Altice became the fourth-largest American cable company, reaching an estimated 5 million homes and businesses as of September 2017.

After the latter acquisition, the company announced plans to drop the Cablevision and Suddenlink names and rebrand itself as Altice USA (though Suddenlink and Optimum remain as consumer-facing brands). It later went public, with a $2.2 billion IPO trailing only Snapchat as 2017’s largest. Founder and Israeli billionaire Patrick Drahi then announced plans to spin off the U.S. division into a separate business in order to attract additional investors.

While the two divisions, Altice and Altice USA, now have different management teams, Drahi still controls both.

This is not the only recent agency shift for Altice. According to Publicis Groupe’s 2017 annual results, the international media account went from Havas to Publicis Media last year. Publicis also worked on the client’s “unified global strategy” and helped design a new logo for the emerging media holding company.

According to Kantar Media, Altice spent approximately $82 million on paid media in the U.S. last year—a significant increase from its $65 million total for 2016.

International consultancy R3 estimates the larger company’s annual global spend to be approximately $150 million.

@PatrickCoffee Patrick Coffee is a senior editor for Adweek.