Level 3 Selects DDB Needham

Dallas Agency Discusses Contractual Details With New Telecom
DALLAS–DDB Needham Dallas last week was negotiating a contract to acquire the $30 million-plus advertising account of telecom upstart Level 3 Communications following a review of at least three agencies.
Sources said DDB edged out Leo Burnett of Chicago, Winkler Advertising in San Francisco and at least one other undisclosed agency.
DDB chief executive officer and president Jake Schroepfer declined to comment. Level 3 representatives would not confirm DDB’s selection at press time.
Sources close to the review said DDB has begun work on a marketing plan for Level 3 that will include broadcast and print advertising, along with direct marketing, collateral and online assignments.
A Level 3 representative did not dispute an initial advertising budget of $30 million for the company [Adweek, May 25], but sources said spending could reach $50 million within a year.
DDB Needham’s Chicago office is currently a finalist in the review for the $40-50 million account of U S West Communications in Englewood, Colo. It was not clear at press time if the agency’s participation in that review would be affected.
Level 3 is in the midst of building an advanced fiber optic network across the U.S. that will transmit voice, data and video using Internet Protocol (IP) technology. Level 3 claims IP is significantly less expensive and more efficient than existing circuit-switched phone systems.
Level 3’s advertising timetable was not clear last week, but the company’s telecom network will be operational in six cities by July and will expand to 15 markets by the end of the year. The company is also plotting international expansion.
The client, which is relocating its corporate headquarters from Omaha, Neb., to Broomfield, Colo., will primarily target business customers for its telecommunications services. It plans to have its national network completed in 36 months.
Before joining Level 3 as president and chief executive last year, James Crowe was president and chief executive of MFS Communications. That competitive local phone service company was sold to WorldCom for $14.3 billion in 1996. Other former MFS executives have joined Crowe at Level 3.