At&T calls on Ayer; Y&R loses $40-mil. piece of business

In its second seismic billings shift in recent weeks, AT&T has moved Young & Rubicam’s estimated $40-million portion of the domestic consumer long-distance business to Ayer.
“Ayer is basically getting all the marketing initiatives to stimulate AT&T calling from outside the home,” said one source. Y&R execs reportedly made a last-ditch attempt to hang on to the business but failed. With the shift, Y&R basically loses all of its domestic consumer long-distance business but remains a major AT&T agency.
Ayer and Y&R declined comment. Dick Martin, vp/corporate advertising for AT&T, declined to comment on any specific assignments changing hands. But, he said, “both Ayer and Y&R continue to have important assignments in the consumer long-distance business.”
Y&R will retain its lucrative international business, and, according to one source, may get some further business down the road.
Among the services that Y&R is losing are 1-800-OPERATOR, Access, Message Services and special marketing services to groups likely to use pay phones such as military personnel and college students.
Losing 1-800-OPERATOR–or AT&T’s answer to MCI’s 1-800-COLLECT service–comes after Y&R brought in its San Francisco office, and the connection its creative director Peter Angelo has to ultra-hip director Spike Lee, to create a campaign for the youth-targeted service.
Y&R has always maintained that pulling in San Francisco was simply a part of the agency’s strategy to fully utilize all of its resources throughout the world, but the Y&R/ S.F. involvement came after a number of Y&R/N.Y. creatives had struck out. Of equal significance, Y&R ousted an account management executive vp on AT&T earlier this year, replacing him with two top executives: Arlene Brickner and Margaret Mark.
Sources expect that more shoes will drop before AT&T is satisfied with its agency alignment. Among other considerations is a expected review of the $200-million in direct marketing billings.
Copyright Adweek L.P. (1993)