BellSouth-SBC Puts Out the Call

Wireless Joint Venture Considers Incumbents, Network Agencies
ATLANTA–At least eight agencies were contacted in the estimated $185-250 million review for the as-yet unnamed wireless joint venture between SBC Communications and BellSouth, according to sources.
As expected [Adweek, July 10], the process will include BellSouth incumbent WestWayne of Atlanta and Tampa, Fla., and SBC incumbent GSD&M in Austin, Texas.
Other agencies contacted by Wanamaker, the Atlanta consultancy conducting the review, are said to include Publicis, Grey Worldwide, BBDO Worldwide and Bates Worldwide, all New York; DDB Worldwide, Chicago; and Campbell-Ewald, Warren, Mich., according to sources.
DDB and Campbell-Ewald confirmed receiving a request for proposal but declined to participate because of client conflicts.
Ken Bowes, Wanamaker president, refused to comment. Representatives for BellSouth, based in Atlanta, and SBC, San Antonio, have only identified the incumbents as invitees. GSD&M and WestWayne both confirmed their participation. Other agencies either declined comment or did not return calls by press time last week.
Agency ob-servers noted that, of the two incumbents, GSD&M may be considered “as close to the favorite as a review like this gets” while WestWayne is the dark horse.
GSD&M, already familiar with roughly half the territory of the new wireless operation, has one of the region’s largest and most highly regarded media departments, buttressed by the deep resources of parent Omnicom.
Conversely, WestWayne is the only contender with less than $1 billion in billings (roughly $325 million) and is the lone independent. Not only does it not have a worldwide network, WestWayne’s offices are limited to a single region.
The unnamed merged entity recently tapped SBC’s Steven Carter chief executive and BellSouth’s Mark Seidler chief operating officer. Headquarters are in Atlanta.
A BellSouth spokesperson said the entity’s name will be revealed the day the two parties announce FCC approval of their merged wireless operations, which is likely in September. VSA in Chicago, in conjunction with BellSouth/SBC marketing personnel, has been retained to create a company name and logo.
A cut to four agencies will be made by the end of the month, with presentations in September for an October decision, sources said. K