Over the past year or so, we’ve posted several times on Sprint’s evolving relationship with the Los Angeles offices of its creative agency of record Deutsch.
Today sources tell us that the telecommunications giant is moving more of its work in-house and that it may soon break with Deutsch altogether.
The relevant changes started last year, when former SVP of Hispanic marketing and president of Sprint Puerto Rico Roger Solé took over for Kevin Crull in the CMO role; Crull is now president of the central and northeast regions of the U.S. This news followed an announcement that Sprint would cut $2-2.5B in expenses over the first six months of 2016.
Some of those cuts affected Deutsch, which had initially planned to launch a production unit dedicated to Sprint but later lost all of that business to Yellow Fan Studios, the in-house team created by the client as part of its streamlining efforts on the marketing side. Yellow Fan began making local Sprint ads as well as some with wider distribution, most notably the one in which a woman referred to rival T-Mobile’s product as “ghetto.”
Deutsch followed with a round of downsizing that by some estimates eliminated more than 30 jobs before the client named PR veteran Christopher Ian Bennett as Yellow Fan’s executive creative director. Deutsch later created a campaign that cast former Verizon pitchman Paul Marcarelli as one customer who made the switch.
Today Solé responded to our query with a statement:
“Sprint’s marketing efforts are handled by a consortium of talented teams including Yellow Fan Studios, our in-house capability. Deutsch is one of our go-to creative partners and most recently launched the ‘1 Percent’ campaign featuring Paul Marcarelli. This week we released our new ‘Boardroom’ campaign by the Deutsch team and have been working with them on our holiday briefing.”
Here’s “Boardroom,” which targets Verizon.
Sprint declined to provide more information about its post-holiday plans, stating that it does not discuss agency contracts.
Deutsch PR has not returned our emails or phone calls this week, but other sources tell us that the end now feels inevitable and that the relationship has been tenuous since late last year.
We have not received any information hinting at plans for Sprint to reach out to other agencies or launch a formal review, and its full roster is not publicly available. According to tips we received earlier this year, Deutsch staffers don’t know which other shops are working on the business at any given time.
Updates when they come in.