Call Waiting: SBC, Ameritech Merger Could Result In More Creative, Media Consolidations

CHICAGO – Consolidation of advertising and media responsibilities appears likely if SBC Communications’ acquisition of Ameritech is approved, but it’s too early to tell how things might shake out, according to officials close to the situation.
San Antonio, Texas-based SBC will be making the calls if its $62 billion acquisition of Ameritech is approved by the federal government, and that could mean a stripped-down agency roster. SBC’s purchase of Pacific Telesis last year resulted in a number of agency consolidations.
Approval will take at least a year, and for now it’s business as usual for the SBC and Ameritech agencies, representatives of the companies said.
GSD&M in Austin, Texas, benefitted the most from SBC’s 1997 acquisition of PacTel. The shop was awarded the combined media buying account for all Southwestern Bell and Pacific Bell advertising last December – business worth an estimated $250 million. SBC also consolidated creative duties for its wireless brands at GSD&M, which also handles Yellow Pages creative.
Ammirati Puris Lintas, Ameritech’s lead creative agency, didn’t win many friends at SBC when it unsuccessfully pitched the company’s long-distance account in September 1996, sources said. APL recommended a vastly different strategy than SBC had in mind and was eliminated from the competition.
APL opened a Chicago office after winning Ameritech’s creative duties in July 1997, and is moving forward with plans to build the office. “In this business, you have to be prepared all the time for odd twists in the road,” said Brad Brinegar, president of APL Chicago.
Ameritech’s $100 million media buying account was awarded to Carat ICG here. Ameritech Cellular’s creative work is handled by Cliff Freeman & Partners, New York.