VERIZON PUTS $315 MILLION ACCOUNT INTO REVIEW

Wireless Giant Says It Is 'Not Satisfied' With Interpublic Work

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SAN FRANCISCO (AdAge.com) -- Verizon Wireless, the nation's largest wireless carrier, today said it was putting the national creative portion of its $828 million advertising account into review.

"We're not satisfied with what we have received from Interpublic Group of Cos. and we're going to have an agency review," said Verizon Wireless spokeswoman Brenda Raney. She said Interpublic shops would be invited to the pitch along with outside agencies.

Account at Lowe
Verizon Wireless since January 2002 has been using its Test Man campaign, which was created by Bozell; the account shifted to Lowe, New York, in early 2003 after Interpublic merged the two shops.

In recent months, Verizon Wireless has been meeting with Interpublic shops, including McCann-Erickson Worldwide, New York, with the goal of "helping to generate new ideas," according to one knowledgeable executive.

Verizon Wireless spent $828 million in measured media in 2002, according to TNS Media Intelligence/CMR. For the first 10 months of 2003, spending was $751 million, up from $678 million in the first 10 months of 2002. National advertising accounts for about $315 million in billings, with the remainder at a number of shops handling regional advertising, Interpublic’s Hill Holliday, New York, and Campbell Mithun, Minneapolis, among them. Ms. Raney said these accounts were not affected by the review.

Push by Cingular
The review comes as Verizon's position as the No. 1 wireless carrier is challenged amid reports that the No. 2 player, Cingular, a joint venture of BellSouth and SBC Communications, are in talks to buy AT&T Wireless, a move that would give the new combined company 45 million subscribers compared with Verizon's 36 million.

Bedminster, N.J.-based Verizon Wireless is a joint venture of Verizon Communications and the Vodafone Group.

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