T3’s Quick Thinking Won Over Nortel

The Think Tank, better known as T3, was able to parlay a series of Nortel assignments into the entire $15 million account because the shop proved it is tech-savvy and can handle the fast-paced nature of the telecom market, a client exec said.

“The telecommunications category by its nature is very fast-paced and dynamic, and requires flexibility and speed to market,” said Bruce Horner, director of global branding and advertising at Nortel.

T3, a 15-year-old Austin, Texas, independent, built its relationship with Nortel from a single interactive project it picked up in January, adding assignments that included online creative and media buying two months later. It gained the rest of the account, previously at Interpublic Group’s Temerlin McClain in Irving, Texas, earlier this month.

Shop president Gay Gaddis said executive creative director Jay Suhr and interactive cd Kirk Drummond demonstrated that the shop had the creative strength to handle the business.

Nortel made the shift after meeting with the team of T3 execs in late October and in a Nov. 3 meeting in Austin. The account will be run by managing director John McGarry out of New York, where T3 opened an office in October 2002.

T3 does not have a high profile in Texas, but growth has been steady. (The shop claims capitalized billings were up 7 percent to $102 million for the fiscal year ended in September, from the same period a year ago.) Gaddis said T3’s flat structure and its decision to “overinvest” in tools like those that measure online ads and digital asset- management systems have been key to its growth. “These are things that clients are excited about,” she said.

The shop’s 12-year relationship with Dell, for which it handles catalogs for small and midsize businesses, has kept it abreast of the industry’s technological changes. “They forced us into the online space probably before we may have done it,” Gaddis said.