Verizon Preps Review for Digital Agency Support

Recently Added Wieden & Kennedy to Handle Creative and Strategy for the Verizon Brand and Network

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Credit: Ron Antonelli/Bloomberg

Verizon Communications is prepping a search among existing agency holding company partners for a digital agency that can provide more support, according to people familiar with the matter.

A Verizon spokesman declined to comment.

Verizon Communications' holdings include wireless-service provider Verizon Wireless and Verizon Wireline, which houses fiber-optic and internet services under the Fios brand.

The move comes six months after Verizon tapped Diego Scotti as exec VP and CMO and tasked him with boosting the global brand, creating consumer awareness and advocacy and driving customer preference for the brand through all channels.

A few months after his appointment, the company hired independent Wieden & Kennedy to handle creative and strategy work for the Verizon brand and its network. DentsuAegis' McGarrybowen continues to serve as agency of record for the wireless business, with Interpublic Group of Companies' McCann continuing as agency of record for Fios.

But the telecom giant's digital business has been more fragmented, divided among agencies across multiple holding companies, including WPP, Publicis Groupe and Interpublic.

WPP's AKQA won the digital marketing business for Verizon Wireless in 2012 from Interpublic's R/GA.

IPG's MRM/McCann has handled CRM and digital marketing among other duties for Verizon brands, including Fios and Wireless.

Publicis' Moxie has supported digital planning and buying for Fios and Wireless alongside their longtime media agency (and Moxie sibling) Zenith. And SapientNitro, which recently became a Publicis agency, has also supported digital marketing for the brands.

The question is whether Mr. Scotti will seek to consolidate any of these relationships within a single holding company or just create a new relationship, as the company did with the Wieden appointment. The appointment of Mr. Scotti, who previously led marketing for J. Crew and the Vogue brand for Conde Nast, represented a departure for Verizon, which typically appoints marketing executives from within its ranks. In the broadband market, the telecom giant is facing intense competition from AT&T, Google and, perhaps soon, a combined Comcast and Time Warner.

Verizon Communications, which had previously owned only 55% of Verizon Wireless, in February 2014 acquired the remaining 45% stake from Vodafone Group, a U.K.-based telecom firm, for about $130 billion. Verizon Communications now owns Verizon Wireless and fiber-optic and internet services under the Fios brand.

The company spent $2.44 billion on U.S. advertising and marketing in 2013, according to its 10-K filing.

~ Contributing: Mark Bergen, Maureen Morrison ~

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