We Hear: T-Mobile Gives Its Social Media Business to MRY

By Patrick Coffee 

Sources close to the matter confirm today that T-Mobile has chosen Publicis’ MRY as its new social media agency of record. The client has no comment at this time.

The win follows news that MRY would be shifting its focus west and opening a new office in Seattle across the water from T-Mobile’s U.S. headquarters in Bellevue, Washington. That move was accompanied by some staffing changes as several New York-based employees were relocated and a small number were laid off.

Big Fuel defeated SapientNitro and others to win the T-Mobile social business back in 2011 just a week before Publicis bought a majority share in the organization. The client’s internal PR department had previously run its own accounts, leaving CEO John Legere plenty of room to play the role of Twitter antagonist (while sometimes overshadowing his own company’s marketing efforts).

T-Mobile did not announce a formal review.

The company recently overtook Sprint as the number three wireless provider in the U.S. despite repeated attempts by Deutsch L.A. and David Beckham to present its rival as the preferred low-price alternative to AT&T and Verizon (which remain market leaders by a large margin.) Some observers credited the bump to the company’s “Straight-talk Express” approach to social media and its focus on rapid response customer service.

But the accounts aren’t just about hyping these offerings and answering user complaints. There’s a bit of the old appeal to all audiences messaging along with some snark aimed at T-Mobile’s competitors…especially AT&T CEO Randall L. Stephenson, who gets his own hashtag.

tmobile randall

MRY is not new to the carrier game. Last year, AT&T hired the shop to manage its anti-texting-while-driving campaign “It Can Wait,” which had been handled by BBDO and generated millions of impressions and engagements but reportedly did little to alter consumer behavior. The client/agency relationship eventually ended, making way for the T-Mobile win. (“It Can Wait” is now back with BBDO New York.)

T-Mobile’s recent ads by Publicis positioned the company as one that isn’t afraid to poke a bit of fun at itself and its industry with the help of Joel McHale and Kim Kardashian. Its newest spot urged consumers to “think again“…about a new extended coverage offering.

MRY deferred to the client for comment on this post.