Verizon Hires Ad Talent From Apple, Builds In-House Agency

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Andrew McKechnie joins Verizon as its first chief creative officer.
Andrew McKechnie joins Verizon as its first chief creative officer. Credit: Verizon
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Verizon hired its first chief creative officer to build an in-house agency that will help reposition the brand in a hyper-competitive telecom landscape.

The wireless company brought in Andrew McKechnie, coming over from the agency world and his latest job inside Apple, to take on the chief creative position.

It will be the chief creative's job to help "move Verizon from a wireless company to more of a tech company," Mr. McKechnie said from Verizon's new agency-like offices in New York's Financial District.

Mr. McKechnie has been on the job for less than a week. He steps into a role at Verizon leading a team of close to 60 people with plans to grow to handle marketing duties from how the website looks to the stores to the ads.

Verizon is facing ever greater pressure from rivals like T-Mobile, which has been seen as the scrappy underdog, mostly because of its relentless social media presence and an always-on CEO in John Legere.

Also, telecoms have become more than just wireless providers, and "most reliable network" is no longer the only message needed for Verizon's marketing.

Now, there are services, Internet of Things connectivity, apps, video platforms and more pieces to the company that needs a more coherent story, according to Diego Scotti, Verizon's chief marketing officer.

"We want to create a really strong creative arm internally that can help connect the dots better for how the brand narrative and brand experience gets executed across touchpoints," Mr. Scotti said.

Mr. McKechnie is tasked with making more sense of all the spaces Verizon is straddling. The company even bought AOL, Yahoo, Complex Media, and other pieces that are reshaping its core.

At Apple, Mr. McKechnie was the global group creative director at a time when the iPhone-maker was taking more control of its marketing.

In 2014, Apple began the work of building a 1,000-person internal ad agency.

"It all goes back to how to reduce clutter and simplify the message," said Mr. McKechnie. Those are qualities Apple has been known to have mastered in its products.

Also, Verizon wants to capture some of the emotional connection that the tech world built with people, where companies like Apple and Google can lean on sentimentality in a way that telecom companies traditionally couldn't.

"We want to create a consistency of voice, look and emotional experience," Mr. Scotti said. "For a brand at this scale, you got to really build the capability and bring in a lot of talented and creative people that can help build that."

Mr. Scotti said that Verizon would still work with its agency and media partners, like McCann, R/GA and Zenith. Verizon brings agency leaders into the company regularly for what it calls "cabinet meetings" to plan marketing strategies.

"We can't do it alone," Mr. Scotti said.