AT&T Split Could Trigger Reviews

The day AT&T made known plans to split into four units, Young & Rubicam was given the task to create a print ad announcing the move. Within hours, the New York shop had a concept—birth announcements—and two days later, “Meet the family” ran in national newspapers.

While Y&R was in production, rival agencies were dialing marketing executives at AT&T. Yes, the restructuring could lead to changes in the agency roster, an AT&T representative acknowledged. But as of Friday, no reviews had been launched.

“I wouldn’t be surprised if we [ended up with] four different separate companies going separate ways,” the representative said. “It would be quite favorable for them to each have their own agencies, look and feel, and slogans.”

Citing a sagging stock price, AT&T said Wednesday it would split into four divisions: consumer, wireless, business and broadband. AT&T expects to complete the plan in 2002.

The company spends about $800 million a year in measured me-dia, per Competitive Media Reporting.

Consumer duties, including long distance, 1-800 Call ATT, 00-Information and 10-10-345, are split between New York shops Y&R and FCB Worldwide. Currently, there is no marketing chief for the consumer unit, another AT&T representative said. Cathy Constable, vp, marketing communications, however, manages AT&T’s overall brand initiatives.

AT&T Wireless in Kirkland, Wash., is handled by FCB in San Francisco, which earlier this year launched an estimated $250 million campaign. Kim Whitehead is svp, marketing at that unit.

B2B duties recently were consolidated at FCB in New York, after a review. AT&T spent $45 million on such advertising last year. William O’Brien is vp, marketing of the business division.

AT&T Broadband, the result of AT&T’s purchases of cable providers MediaOne and TCI, is handled by Jordan McGrath Case & Partners Euro RSCG in New York. Ads for that received about $55 million in spending support last year. Doug Seserman is svp, marketing at that unit.

Roster shops either declined comment or could not be reached.

Still unclear is how efforts that cross divisional boundaries will be affected. AT&T Personal Network, for instance, bundles wireless and long distance on one phone bill; AT&T spent about $95 million on it last year. CHRIS HONDROS / NEWSMAKERS/ NEWSCOM