T-Mobile hands its $2 billion U.S. media account to Initiative

Credit: T-Mobile
Credit: T-Mobile

Spark Foundry and Essence lost the business, and Horizon retained the Sprint Boost account, which is now owned by Dish.

T-Mobile wrapped up a $2.1 billion media review kicked off in September, and IPG Mediabrand's Initiative is the big winner, Campaign US has learned. 

The review, which began in September, includes duties for Sprint’s $1.1 billion media account, after the telcos officially merged in April. The pitch was run by ID Comms. 

Horizon Media previously held Sprint's media business for Sprint pre-paid mobile carrier Boost, which was worth roughly $300 million. Sprint handled search and performance media in-house, which was about $350 million. Horizon will retain the Boost business, which Sprint sold to Dish for $1.4 billion in July.

In total, Horizon Media lost roughly $300 million in billings in the account switch, the agency confirmed.

Publicis Media’s Spark Foundry held T-Mobile’s offline media account, worth an estimated $700 million, and GroupM’s Essence had T-Mobile’s digital media account, which it was helping the brand bring in-house, estimated at $200 million, per COMvergence.

Publicis Groupe declined to comment. IPG and Essence did not respond to requests for comment in time for publication.

“Now that Sprint is part of T-Mobile, we’re operating on a bigger scale and taking on bigger and bolder goals. As part of that, we reviewed agency relationships over the last few months. Our team heard from the best of the best and saw incredible thinking to help fuel our next phase of growth,” said Matt Staneff, T-Mobile CMO. “We are grateful to those who took part and congratulate the team at Initiative for their well-deserved success!”

T-Mobile and Sprint first announced plans to merge in 2018, with big ambitions to take on AT&T and Verizon in the race to 5G wireless. The proposed $26 billion merger was subject to regulatory approval by the Department of Justice, which gave the green light in July 2019.

Now that the merger is complete, the new T-Mobile is looking for a new agency roster to shake up its marketing approach. T-Mobile thanked Spark Foundry "for their years-long partnership and the crucial role they have played in T-Mobile’s success," and Essence for "in recent years helping us evolve our digital capabilities."

The telco has been handling some of its media buying duties, including media strategy, search and analytics in-house, and will continue to do so moving forward, a T-Mobile spokesperson confirmed.  

This story has been updated to reflect that Horizon Media still retains the Boost account, now under Dish. 

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