A Hungry SBC Has Its Roster Shops Wary

LOS ANGELES – SBC Communications roster shop Goodby, Silverstein & Partners could feel the effects of agency consolidation if the telecommunications company’s proposed deal to acquire Ameritech Corp. is approved by federal regulators.
San Antonio, Texas-based SBC announced plans last week to acquire Ameritech for $56 billion in stock. Advertising and media responsibilities, now split among several shops, would likely be consolidated, according to officials close to the situation, although it is too early to tell how things might shake out.
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 is business as usual for the SBC and Ameritech agencies, representatives of the companies said.
Goodby handles all brand advertising for SBC units Southwestern Bell and Pacific Bell, worth $40-50 million.
Meanwhile, U S West Communications, a smaller baby Bell, is already scouting for a new shop to handle creative and media planning duties for its estimated $40-50 million account. The Denver-based company narrowed its list of contenders to four shops last week: Bozell Worldwide, Seattle; Martin/Williams and Campbell Mithun Esty, both in Minneapolis; and DDB Needham, Chicago. Pamela K. El, U S West Communications vice president of advertising, said the company expects to make a selection by the end of June, and left open the possibility of hiring more than one shop.
Separately, FCB San Francisco, which handles AT&T Wireless, has been tapped to handle sports marketing for the company’s Western region, an area covering 11 Western states.
Strategy is a big part of the assignment, according to Keith Bruce, director of FCB’s sports marketing unit.
One of FCB’s first projects is to target Phoenix, Bruce said. A relative newcomer to that market, AT&T Wireless is seeking exposure through sporting events such as golf tournaments.
–with Steve Krajewski and Trevor Jensen