Iridium Talking to Shops About $50 Mil. Account

NEW YORK-Iridium LLC has become the latest company in the burgeoning communications field to offer up a new ad account. The Washington, D.C.-based client is developing a global wireless communications network and is talking to agencies about handling its new $50 million ad business.
John Windolph, executive director of marketing and corporate communications at Iridium, confirmed the company is talking to five agencies, but would not identify them. “All of the agencies are of global repute and are predominantly based in New York,” he said.
The contenders are scheduled to meet with Iridium’s 15-member selection committee in New York at the end of October, said Windolph. The agencies will not have to present speculative creative ideas. A shop is scheduled to be selected in November.
The broadcast, print and direct marketing campaign that will introduce the service to consumers is expected to launch in the middle of next year, said Windolph. The winning agency will also handle media planning and buying duties, he said.
The service, which is 25 percent owned by Motorola and scheduled to be operational in September 1998, will allow users to communicate using hand-held telephones and pagers anywhere in the world. In addition to Motorola, the system is being financed by an international consortium of telecommunications and industrial companies.
Iridium, which has 22 of its 66 planned satellites in orbit, was scheduled to launch seven more last Saturday.
Iridium’s main competitor is Globalstar LP, which is also set to begin its service in 1998. In January, the company awarded its international advertising account to Grey Advertising, New York.
Agencies are benefiting from the new technology in the telecommunications industry. Since January 1996, for example, there have been a host of account shifts or reviews in the wireless category from such companies as AT&T Wireless Services, Omnipoint Communications Services, PrimeCo and Western Wireless Corp.