FCB Deal With AT&T Business Appears Unlikely

NEW YORK — Time is running out on Foote, Cone & Belding’s contract with AT&T Business, and sources said it is unlikely that the deal will be renewed past its Dec. 31 deadline.

With the contract winding down, FCB had reached out to consultancy Wanamaker Associates with the hope of getting into BellSouth’s current review. Ultimately, FCB was rebuffed. A BellSouth official last week would not comment on FCB’s inquiries, but said the client has already settled on four other finalists.

Even though those overtures indicate that FCB may not be confident that it will retain AT&T, Jeff Tarakajian, president of the agency’s New York office, said, “FCB is committed to a relationship with AT&T Business today and in 2002.”

A client representative would only say, “We’re continuing to work with FCB. Discussions continue about next year’s contract. No decision has been made.”

Last month, FCB lost the remainder of its AT&T Consumer account (worth approximately $35 million) to Young & Rubicam.

When FCB won the account in September 2000, Bill O’Brien was the marketing vp for AT&T Business Services, which was expected to spend $100 million.

O’Brien left the company this summer and was succeeded by Jeanmarie Kantor, vp of enterprise marketing, part of the Business unit. She could not be reached for comment.

“The AT&T Business contract will not be renewed at FCB,” one source said. “This is a done deal, but [the client] is trying to figure out what they’re going to do next.”

The source added that the Basking Ridge, N.J.-based client would not put the business at either Y&R or Ogilvy & Mather, because each of the four AT&T entities? — Wireless, Broadband, Consumer and Business — considers itself a separate, competitive company.

The AT&T Wireless contract at Ogilvy prohibits any other AT&T business from existing at Ogilvy.

AT&T Business spent about $40 million in media in 2000 and some $20 million from January through June 2001, according to CMR.