Agencies Chase $50-70 Mil. Newnet Launch

Newnet, a consortium of telecommunications and technology providers looking to revolutionize the delivery of phone, cable TV and Internet services, is shopping an estimated $50-70 million ad account, said sources.
The client, a new entity formed by U.S. and Canadian companies and led by software provider PointCast, has been in discussions with traditional and interactive agencies as it prepares to take its message to consumers.
PointCast, which sources said is “driving the agency search,” declined comment.
The entity, to be headquartered in Sunnyvale, Calif., will provide “broadband” technology to homes and businesses in the U.S. and Canada. The service will include high-speed digital Internet connections and Web services through a single cable to a “tuner,” which will act as a “launch pad” for various electronic services, sources said. It will provide a “dedicated and always-on” digital connection between the telco and subscriber’s PC, said a source.
Newnet is said to want an agency to create and launch its corporate identity. “At this stage, they’re asking shops how they could market such a product,” said the source. One or more agencies may be tapped.
Several shops made capabilities presentations two weeks ago to Newnet’s executive committee, and a list of contenders has been trimmed down, said sources.
As of last week, members of the consortium–which several people stressed is “changing daily”–included PointCast,USWeb/CKS, US West and Bell Canada. The consortium has been trying to woo Microsoft into the venture, sources said, and other regional telcos may yet jump on board.
Executives at those companies could not be reached at press time.
“There is a chance that this thing may never get off the ground, since so many parties are trying to agree on how to proceed, and there are conflicts,” said one source. “But if it flies, it’s going to be huge.”
–with David Gianatasio