AirTouch Calls 3 Shops

AirTouch Satellite Services has selected three undisclosed agencies to compete in a review for its estimated $50 million U.S. ad account. The prevailing agency will introduce the Globalstar satellite communications system.
Karen Gilligan, vice president of marketing for Walnut Creek, Calif.-based ATSS, confirmed the company picked the finalists after talking with about 10 agencies over the last few weeks. “We’re in the process of selecting an agency now,” she said.
Slated to launch in late 1998, Globalstar will utilize a network of 48 low-Earth-orbit satellites and 50 land-based “gateways” to allow users to make and receive phone calls from anywhere–even in countries with no land-based telephone systems.
While Gilligan declined to comment on the finalist agencies, sources said two shops well-placed to pitch the business are TBWA Chiat/Day’s Venice, Calif., office, which handles AirTouch Cellular in the U.S., and Grey Advertising’s New York office, which won Globalstar L.P.’s $5 million corporate image global account earlier this year. ATSS’ “goal” is to select one shop, said Gilligan, although she left open the possibility that the business could be broken into advertising, direct marketing and public relations portions, all handled by different shops.
ATSS parent AirTouch Communications and 11 other telecommunications and aerospace companies formed Globalstar L.P. in 1991. In return for its equity stake in the $800 million consortium, AirTouch received exclusive rights to market the service in the U.S., Canada, Mexico, the Caribbean, Indonesia and Japan.
The three finalist agencies will also be asked to present ideas on how they would handle the business in Airtouch’s foreign markets, Gilligan said. Overseas, ATSS will work with its local partners to pick shops on a “country-by-country basis,” she said. ATSS’ ads will be “coordinated” with Grey’s global efforts, she said.
–with Angela Dawson