Verizon Goes Back to McGarryBowen for Android Phone Project

Nation's No. 2 Ad Spender Bypasses Agency of Record McCann for Assignment

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NEW YORK (AdAge.com) -- Verizon Wireless has reached beyond agency-of-record McCann Erickson, tapping Dentsu-owned McGarryBowen for a marketing project related to a much-talked about Verizon Android phone.

For McGarryBowen, the project, which was awarded without a pitch, means welcoming back an old friend. Verizon was McGarryBowen's founding client when John McGarry, renowned for his relationships, departed Y&R to start his own shop along with former Ogilvy exec Gordon Bowen back in 2002, but the client and agency later parted ways.

It also means that McGarryBowen gets to handle a hot new assignment for the nation's second-biggest marketer, which devotes a whopping $3.7 billion to domestic advertising, according to Advertising Age's Data Center. And Android is Google-backed, open-source mobile-operating system that is set to power a growing numbers of handsets.

Representatives for McCann and McGarryBowen referred calls to Verizon, which declined to comment.

Executives familiar with the situation said McGarryBowen's reappointment to the telecom giant's roster doesn't affect McCann's current assignments or its lead-agency status on the Verizon Communications, Verizon Business and Verizon Wireless accounts.

Still, it suggests that McCann -- which has seen major pieces of its Microsoft business depart for other agencies this year -- may not have the firmest grip on another of its most important and lucrative clients. It also comes as the agency just named Thom Gruhler, global account director of the Verizon Wireless business, to serve as New York office president.

Verizon also represents one of parent Interpublic Group of Cos. five biggest clients, with a host of its agencies, including MRM Worldwide, R/GA, Momentum Worldwide and Hill Holliday, all working on the Verizon account.