After 10 Years, MCI Looks Around

WorldCom has put its MCI WorldCom residential long-distance account, with estimated billings of $75 million, in review. Questionnaires for the creative and media account were sent to about 20 shops and are due back Oct. 6, sources said.

The RFP says, in part, “Due to the un-precedented change in the communications in-dustry and the op-portunities this change brings, MCI is conducting a review in the residential portion of its ad-vertising.”

Claire Hassett, a client rep, confirmed the review. She said the company hopes to offer “one-stop shopping” for long-distance, local, wireless and Internet-access services. A decision is expected in December.

The review for the Clinton, Miss.-based client is being run by Gretchen Gehrett, WorldCom’s vp of advertising and communications, out of the Arlington, Va., office. She did not return calls at press time.

The incumbent, Messner Vetere Berger McNamee Schmetterer/Euro RSCG, will defend, a source said. “We’ve enjoyed a 10-year relationship. We welcome the opportunity to present fresh ideas to retain the business,” said Ron Berger, agency CEO. The agency acquired the WorldCom account when that company bought MCI in 1997.

According to Competitive Media Reporting, MCI spent $760 million in media in the U.S. in 1999.

MVBMS created the MCI campaign touting 5-cent Sundays. It also does work for MCI’s digital, new-media and Internet-telephony services, as well as several parts of MCI’s consumer business. These elements are not in review.

The shop handles media planning as well, while its media-services arm, SFM, New York, does the buying. Both are owned by Havas. Media agencies have not been asked to pitch; creative agencies have been asked to make a media recommendation.

TMP Worldwide of Hoboken, N.J., is also on the roster and handles direct marketing. That portion of the account is unaffected by the review.