CenturyLink Taps a New Lead Agency to Build Brand Awareness

Telecom firm spends $100 million on media annually

Regional telecommunications player CenturyLink has found a new lead agency for its consumer business.

The Boston office of Arnold has landed the company's creative account after a review, and the brand's media spending exceeded $100 million last year, according to Kantar Media. It's not clear who the other finalists were. Mercer Island Group in Seattle managed the process.

In making the hire, CenturyLink chief marketing officer Shirish Lal cited Arnold's strategic thinking and people.

In the past, CenturyLink employed agencies such as Peter Mayer Advertising for its creative efforts. So, the hiring of Arnold represents a step change for the company, which operates in 38 states and generated $18 billion in revenue last year but is not a big brand name.

"That's the opportunity—to really build brand awareness," said Pam Hamlin, global president of Havas' Arnold. "This really represents the next chapter of them as a marketer."

Beyond traditional ads, the assignment includes digital and direct marketing, with an emphasis on lead generation through data and analytics. In that context, the business resembles Progressive, another Arnold client, which put the agency on CenturyLink's radar screen.

The new shop's first work is expected in early 2015. Elliott Seaborn, one of two managing directors in Arnold's Boston office, will lead management of the account, and group creative director David Register will oversee creative development.

CenturyLink, which is based in Monroe, La., claims to be the third-largest telco in the U.S. (after AT&T and Verizon), based on the number of lines served.

Media planning and buying responsibilities were not in play and remain at Butler/Till in Rochester, N.Y.