Sprint Zeroes In on an Agency for Broadcast Ads

Deutsch L.A. in talks to help the brand battle AT&T, Verizon

Sprint is close to naming a new agency to create broadcast ads at a crucial time in the company's history.

Deutsch L.A. is in advanced negotiations to handle the assignment, which is worth more than $20 million in annual revenue, according to sources. In media, Sprint spends about $450 million annually on broadcast ads.

Sprint, which badly trails market leaders AT&T and Verizon, finds itself in battle with T-Mobile to become a viable alternative to the big boys. Sprint parent SoftBank, however, has deep pockets and the determination to shake up the U.S. market. And now, the company is getting a new agency to lead the charge.

Should Deutsch finalize a deal with Sprint, the agency would succeed New York startup Figliulo & Partners on the business.

The finalist emerged from a fast-track review, which began in September. Sprint executives subsequently met with five shops—Deutsch, Arnold, Saatchi & Saatchi, Crispin Porter + Bogusky and Kirshenbaum Bond Senecal + Partners—before narrowing the field last month to Deutsch and Arnold, a unit of Havas. A final round of meetings took place last week, and Sprint has since told Arnold that it's not getting the business.

Sprint would represent another demanding, sales-driven account for Deutsch L.A., which also handles the likes of Taco Bell, Pizza Hut and Volkswagen of America. The telco would also give the shop the chance to work directly with new Sprint CEO Marcelo Claure, a hands-on leader who led the agency search. Mercer Island Group in Seattle helped manage the process. 

Deutsch declined to comment, and Sprint could not immediately be reached. But with Arnold out of the picture, Deutsch appears to be the last remaining finalist. So, if the agency and telco can come to terms, Sprint will have found the creative help it needs.