Riney Out as Sprint Picks Contenders

NEW YORK Sprint Nextel has selected at least three shops to proceed in the pitch for its U.S. creative account: Goodby, Silverstein & Partners, Ogilvy & Mather and Young & Rubicam, the client has confirmed.

“And we’re continuing to explore other options,” said a client representative. “Another agency could emerge.”

Among those out of contention is the incumbent on business-directed ads: Publicis Groupe’s Publicis & Hal Riney in San Francisco, which partnered with sibling shop Saatchi & Saatchi in New York.

As a result, no incumbents remain in the review. The agency for consumer-directed ads, Omnicom Group’s TBWA\Chiat\Day in New York, exited the contest last week.

Riney issued a statement that began, “Following recent discussions with the Sprint team about their requirements going forward, we have made the decision not to participate in the [next round of] Sprint Nextel’s review. Riney and agency partner, Saatchi & Saatchi, have both won several new pieces of business in the past several weeks, including most recently Wendy’s and JC Penney for Saatchi. These new wins and our understanding of Sprint’s needs going forward led to this decision.”

The three finalists emerged after client executives visited some half-dozen agencies in the past two weeks. The Reston, Va.-based client is expected to brief the contenders this week and final presentations are slated for March. As such, the window for possibly adding another finalist will close soon, the rep acknowledged.

WPP Group agencies Ogilvy and Y&R are pitching out of their respective New York headquarters. Omnicom Group’s Goodby is based in San Francisco.

Sprint Nextel, which spends about $1.2 billion annually in major measured media, is looking to consolidate consumer and b-to-b duties at a single shop. Total revenue on the two pieces exceeds $40 million, according to sources.

Media duties last year were consolidated at WPP Group’s MindShare in New York and are not in play.

Sprint’s current campaign features actor Ron Livingston and uses the tagline, “Power up.” The effort began in September, after 13 months of a campaign tagged, “Yes, you can.”