AT&T Wireless Hunts

AT&T Wireless contacted several shops last week about its $300-400 million account as FCB’s New York headquarters took over as defender of the business from incumbent FCB in San Francisco, sources said.

The New York office has “a greater depth of resources, especially in account planning,” said one source.

Questionnaires were sent last week to Ogilvy & Mather, Grey, Saatchi & Saatchi and TBWA\Chiat\Day, all based in New York, and Leo Burnett in Chicago, sources said. They are due at the end of March.

GSD&M in Austin, Texas, and Fallon in Minneapolis are also chasing the business, but had not been contacted by late last week, sources said.

It was not known if AT&T roster shop Young & Rubicam had been contacted or is pursuing the account.

Client representative James Peterson would neither confirm nor deny any contenders, but said AT&T Wireless has not finalized the players. FCB executives could not be reached for comment.

The AT&T business is a hot commodity, given the boom in wireless communications and the generally slow business climate following the dot-com crash.

A year ago, Mohan Gyani joined the company as president and CEO from AirTouch. Other key decision makers include Kim Whitehead, svp of marketing in the Redmond, Wash., office, Phil Jacobus, vp of advertising in the West Palm Beach, Fla., office, and Deborah Stymest, advertising manager in the Paramus, N.J., office.

The client recently gave FCB a positive rating during its annual evaluation, due mainly to FCB New York’s work on the business, sources said. AT&T Wireless executives had said the review was spurred by AT&T’s split into four units: wireless, broadband, business and consumer.

Mike Keeshan, who heads consultancy MagiKbox in Cos Cob, Conn., is managing the review. The search is expected to last about three months.