How Ogilvy Beat FCB and TBWA\C\D for AT&T

With its depth of resources and grasp of the wireless future, Ogilvy & Mather trumped TBWA\Chiat\Day and dark-horse candidate FCB to land the $400 million AT&T Wireless account.

Interestingly, the contest came down to Ogilvy and FCB, which as the incumbent was considered to be the underdog by the other competitors, sources said.

In the end, Ogilvy’s strategic pres entation for the client’s planned “third generation” wireless phone service—which includes streaming video, a color screen and faster Internet service to handheld devices—clinched the prize, a client representative said.

“Ogilvy really demonstrated an understanding of our challenges and where we are going,” said James Peterson, a representative for the Redmond, Wash.-based client.

“Ubiquitous, always on, always connected,” was how Ogilvy vice chairman Steve Hayden described the evolving wireless category. “That’s the future of wireless and that’s what people will expect from it.”

The win came after a four-month review in which the finalists were narrowed to Ogilvy, TBWA\C\D in Playa del Rey, Calif., and FCB in New York, which had defended on behalf of four-year incumbent FCB San Francisco.

The vote of the selection committee was not unanimous, one source said: “[AT&T] really had some strong feelings for the folks at FCB. But for Ogilvy it came down to a few things.” As for TBWA\C\D, the client wasn’t convinced that it had the depth of resources to handle the account.

The executive cited the infrastructure Ogilvy has in place to handle such multifaceted accounts as IBM, American Express, Kodak and Motorola, as well as its ability to communicate the complex brand stories; also mentioned was the chemistry between the 40 Ogilvy staffers who worked on the pitch and their AT&T counterparts.

FCB continues to handle AT&T’s B2B account and shares long-distance duties with Young & Rubicam, which also does AT&T’s corporate ads.