Magazine article ADWEEK

Alltel Seeks Shop to Help Battle the Big Boys: Telecom, New Top Marketer Looking beyond Target Base

Magazine article ADWEEK

Alltel Seeks Shop to Help Battle the Big Boys: Telecom, New Top Marketer Looking beyond Target Base

Article excerpt

NEW YORK The business is growing, and the numbers are strong. So why is wireless-telecommunications provider Alltel talking to shops after just 18 months with Omnicom Group's DDB in Chicago?

The $100 million advertiser's search for new ideas began in early September, sources said, when its new marketing chief gave DDB just two weeks to come up with a new campaign. Frank O'Mara, who joined Alltel in 1997 and most recently served as vp of customer service, was named evp of marketing at the beginning of this year. The shop pushed to have a month to work on the campaign, and O'Mara agreed, but he then began reaching out to a small number of undisclosed agencies for new ideas, sources said.

One source said the exploration off the roster "must have snapped DDB's head back." DDB, however, is participating in the process. Participating shops are expected to present mid-month, with DDB scheduled to pitch first, sources said.

A rep for the Little Rock, Ark., client declined comment on whether Alltel was talking to agencies or on the DDB assignment. O'Mara was unavailable for comment.

A DDB Chicago rep said only that "we are proud of our partnership with Alltel, and we are committed to their business."

Last month, O'Mara told the Arkansas Democrat Gazelle that name recognition was paramount in a cluttered, volatile category like telecommunications. He noted that Alltel wants to appeal to a broader range of customers (beyond its traditional blue-collar base), as well as highlight applications such as picture messages, ring-tone downloads and handsets. …

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