Bell Atlantic’s Final 4

McCann and BBDO Are Cut From $125 Mil. Media Review as Contenders Advance
BOSTON–The competition to be named media agency for Bell Atlantic was cut to a final round of four contenders last week.
Surviving are: Arnold Communications in Boston, pitching with DraftWorldwide in Chicago; TBWA Chiat/Day in New York; True North Communications in Chicago; and Zenith Media, along with Media Direct Partners, both in New York. Presentations are set for late March, said Bell Atlantic representative John Bonomo. McCann-Erickson WorldGroup, New York, and a team comprised of BBDO and fellow Omnicom shop SCP Direct were eliminated, Bonomo said.
Media Direct Partners, which specializes in direct response media, is the only nonroster shop participating.
“The number one priority in this review is cost savings,” said Bonomo. “Direct response [media buying] is also an important component.”
As an interim step, True North will handle all Bell Atlantic newspaper advertising placement through at least June, Bonomo said. True North currently handles buying and planning for Bell Atlantic Mobile Communications.
Whichever shop is chosen to handle the overall account, conservatively estimated at $125 million, would also win the newspaper portion. Bell Atlantic and its units offer local cellular and long-distance calling services.
A final decision is expected in April, Bonomo said.
The review was initiated last year following the completion of Bell Atlantic’s buyout of Nynex Corp. The deal, one of the largest corporate takeovers in American business, made the New York-based telecommunications giant second in size only to AT&T in the U.S.