WPP close to winning global telecoms launch

The WPP Group is believed to have the edge in a pitch against Dentsu, Young &Rubicam for the multimillion pound worldwide brand-building and launch campaign of hand-held satellite phone service ICO Global Communications.

The ICO system, which will allow users to make phone calls from anywhere on earth, even the summit of Everest or the Amazon basin, has the backing of more than 40 national phone companies who are investing a total of $2.6bn (1.7bn) in the project.

WPP companies involved in developing ICO’s branding strategy would include J Walter Thompson, Hill & Knowlton, Research International and corporate identity specialist Sampson Tyrrell.

ICO, which is based in London, faces stiff competition in the race to dominate market share of the next generation of mobile phones.

It believes that the company with the best marketing strategy will win.

ICO’s competitors are: Wash- ington-based Iridium, which is relying on quality of service; Globalstar, which is concentrating on signing up a wider network of telephone service providers; and Odyssey Telecommunications, which is focused on the lowest-cost service.

ICO and Odyssey will launch their services in the year 2000, while Global and Iridium are expected to be available by 1998.

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