Ogilvy Gets Company on ‘mLife’

A corporate acquisition that could have pushed Gotham out of the wireless category instead has turned into a new assignment from AT&T Wireless Services, sources said. The shop’s work is expected to bear the “That’s mLife” tagline that lead agency Ogilvy & Mather in New York introduced early this year.

The client bought out affiliate TeleCorp PCS, a Gotham client, in October. The New York shop had created ads for TeleCorp’s SunCom regional wireless service, which operated in the Midwest and South.

SunCom is being rebranded as AT&T Wireless. As such, some sources expected WPP Group’s Ogil vy to absorb all duties, but the Redmond, Wash., client has decided to expand the roster.

Interpublic Group’s Gotham will handle both national and regional work on an “as-needed, ad-hoc basis,” a source said. Work will include direct-response TV spots, inserts, newspaper ads and ads targeting teenagers, according to an internal agency memo.

Ogilvy remains lead agency on the $400 million global account.

Neither Gotham nor AT&T returned calls; Ogilvy could not be reached.

The client’s decision was driven by Gotham’s track rec ord on SunCom, which it handled for about four years, as well as AT&T Wireless’ growing volume of ad work, said sources.

One source said the TeleCorp deal substantially expands the wireless carrier’s local footprint, and that alone explains the need for a second creative shop. AT&T Wireless is a “very retail-based operation” and a lot of its ads are “local and particular to the respective markets,” said the source, adding, “With 15 to 20 percent more work, it’s smart to have two resources.”

Ogilvy’s “mLife” campaign targets young professionals who strive to live a “mobile” or “untethered” life. A recent spot features two junior executives sharing business ideas. One exec seizes on a concept, excuses himself (“I need some cream”) and tries to sidle into a closed meeting of top brass. The other exec, sensing that his idea is about to be stolen, uses his cell phone to zip a text message to his boss, beating his colleague to the punch. “When text messaging works for you—that’s mLife,” a voiceover explains.

Ogilvy landed the account in July 2001.