Satellite Phone Marketer Picks 3 Contenders

AirTouch Satellite Services, which plans to market the new Globalstar satellite communications system, allowing users to make and receive phone calls anywhere in the world, has begun a global agency review for its estimated $50 million account.
Karen Gilligan, vice president of marketing for Walnut Creek, Calif.-based ATSS, confirmed that the company has selected three undisclosed agencies to compete for the business after talking with about 10 shops in the last few weeks.
“We’re in the process of selecting an agency now,” Gilligan said.
Globalstar L.P. is an $800 million consortium founded in 1991 by 12 telecommunications and aerospace companies, including ATSS parent AirTouch Communications. As part of its equity stake, AirTouch owns exclusive rights to market the service in the U.S., Canada, Mexico, the Caribbean, Indonesia and Japan. It set up ATSS in 1994 to handle its Globalstar investment.
Slated to launch in late 1998, Globalstar will utilize a network of 48 low-Earth-orbit satellites and 50 land-based “gateways” to allow users to make and receive phone calls anywhere–even in countries with no land-based telephone systems.
Gilligan declined to comment on the agencies pitching the business. But sources said two contenders could be TBWA Chiat/Day’s Venice, Calif., office, which handles AirTouch in the U.S., and Grey Advertising’s New York office, which won Globalstar’s $5 million global ad account earlier this year. ATSS’ goal is to select one shop, Gilligan said, but the work could be split up, with different shops handling advertising, direct marketing and public relations.
The three finalists will first pitch the U.S. account and later present ideas on handling the foreign markets where AirTouch has rights, Gilligan said. Overseas, ATSS will work with its local partners to select shops on a “country-by-country basis,” she said, and ads will be “coordinated” with Grey’s global corporate efforts.