Bell Atlantic,GTE join under Verizon badge

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Verizon is the new name of the soon-to-be-merged GTE Corp. and Bell Atlantic.

The companies have yet to formally name an ad agency. Insiders say a review is possible after the merger is finalized. Verizon could spend spend $300 million-plus a year to promote the newly minted telecommunications giant.

AGENCIES BRIEFED

GTE shop Ogilvy & Mather Worldwide and one of Bell Atlantic's agencies, Lord Group, both New York, were briefed about the new name and strategy and were said to be at work on campaigns to break "shortly after" this week's name announcement, said an executive close to the situation. Zenith Media, New York, Bell Atlantic's media buying shop, is expected to handle initial buys.

The name, pronounced vurr-EYE-zun, is an inexact composite of the terms "vision" and "horizon," said an executive with knowledge of the situation. Young & Rubicam brand identity unit Landor Associates--which also named Lucent Technologies and more recently a sibling direct marketing shop, Impiric--created the moniker.

FCC ACTION EXPECTED SOON

The agencies referred calls to GTE and Bell Atlantic, both of which declined comment.

The two companies are in the final stages of a merger to create a telecom giant valued at some $70 billion with 63 million access lines across the country. The deal announced in July 1998 awaits final approval from the Federal Communications Commission, which is expected soon.

In 1999, Bell Atlantic spent $200 million and GTE Corp. spent $120 million in measured media, according to Competitive Media Reporting.

Ogilvy handles all GTE work, while a number of agencies share the Bell Atlantic business. Lord Group and Arnold Communications, Boston, handle the bulk of the corporate and business advertising. Bozell Worldwide, New York, handles the key wireless business of Bell Atlantic Mobile. Draft Worldwide, Chicago, and Tierney & Partners, Philadelphia, also handle smaller parts of the business.

A Web site at verizon.com is listed as being under construction.

Copyright April 2000, Crain Communications Inc.

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