SmarTalk Selects GMO As Its First Ad Agency

SmarTalk last week awarded its estimated $10-15 million account to Goldberg Moser O’Neill here, according to sources.
Asher/Gould in Los Angeles, Campbell Mithun Esty in Minneapolis and the Santa Monica, Calif., offices of The Leap Partnership and Deutsch were the other finalists in the review.
GMO is the first ad agency hired by the rapidly growing telecommunications service company. The win is the shop’s second in just two weeks, having earlier picked up the estimated $3-5 million account of New York-based consulting firm Booz Allen & Hamilton [Adweek, Nov. 3].
Lauren Becker, SmarTalk’s vice president of marketing, confirmed that the company had selected an agency but would not specifically identify GMO as the winner. GMO executives declined to comment.
One source, whose agency was initially invited to the SmarTalk review but did not pitch the business, said, “I think GMO will be a great fit for SmarTalk. They’re big enough and have the right experience [for the client].”
GMO will create SmarTalk’s first branding campaign, sources said, and will launch print work for the client in a few weeks. TV work is expected for 1998.
Westwood, Calif.-based SmarTalk recently issued an initial public offering and is in the process of acquiring two related companies. The company manufactures, sells and distributes prepaid telephone calling cards to consumers. The cards are sold in retail outlets such as grocery, consumer electronics and office-supply stores.
The SmarTalk review was handled by New York-based consultancy Advertising Agency Register.
–with Teresa Buyikian