Cingular Reviews I-Shops

Like many brands with an Internet presence, Cingular Wireless originally opted for only one side of the online coin: Last fall, Cingular tapped New York-based @tmosphere to handle its digital branding and marketing work.

But now, Cingular is looking to the Web’s other side: online direct marketing. Since March, the Atlanta-based wireless service provider has searched for an i-shop to take what sources said is a 500,000-name database of e-mail addresses, generated by a recent promotion, and leverage these assets into something strategic and streamlined.

According to sources familiar with Cingular’s account, the company currently has a spotty e-mail marketing approach — with, for example, some units requesting addresses and others not. In all, Cingular, a wireless joint venture between SBC Communications and BellSouth, has more than 19 million customers in 38 states, the District of Columbia and two U.S. territories.

Last October, the company chose BBDO as its first traditional agency of record. A month later, BBDO’s digital branding agency, @tmosphere, was selected to create a design prototype Web site for Cingular, which does its Web building work in-house. @tmosphere has also been called on to plan and execute digital marketing programs for Cingular as well.

For its latest move online, Cingular reportedly has opened its direct marketing account to a wide field of i-shop candidates; sources said at least two of the competitors include @tmosphere and DotGlu, a recently launched interactive and direct marketing agency of Kirshenbaum Bond & Partners, New York.

Cingular was unavailable for comment, although a rep for Wanamakers Associates in Atlanta, which is conducting the review, said previously that its client plans to look only at freestanding interactive shops. Billings are undisclosed. A decision is expected in a week or two.