Nextel Launches Review

BOSTON Nextel Communications today confirmed what industry watchers have expected for the past several months: the company’s “evaluation” of its marketing services has turned into a review for creative and media chores on the $150-million account.

Roth Associates, New York, which has been working with the client on the evaluation since mid-November, will oversee the review process.

Incumbents Mullen, Wenham, Mass., and Initiative Media, both Interpublic Group agencies, are defending the business. A new Mullen-crafted campaign for Nextel began breaking nationwide this week.

“Today’s announcement does not reflect a lack of confidence with Mullen’s capabilities. We are pleased that [Mullen and Initiative] will be participating in the review,” said Nextel vp, marketing Mark Schweitzer.

“We feel it’s time to review our marketing communications needs to confirm that we have the right combination of strategic and execution partnerships to meet our future needs.” The search will conclude in the second quarter.

Sources have said Nextel — the No. 5 wireless company — has soured on Mullen’s creative approach and is seeking a “big idea” to leverage several years into the future.

Ads from the Wenham, Mass.-based agency that began breaking this week drop two-year pitchman Dennis Franz in favor of celebrities like Rob Lowe and George Lopez, who are placed in scenarios touting the company’s DirectConnect walkie-talkie phone feature.