Pile & Co. to Conduct Search for $315 Million Creative Account

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SAN FRANCISCO ( -- Verizon Wireless said it hired Boston-based consultant Pile & Co. to handle the review for the creative portion of its national advertising account.

A Verizon spokeswoman declined to discuss

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which agencies will be invited to pitch for the account, except to say Interpublic Group of Cos.' McCann-Erickson Worldwide, New York, will be a finalist. Interpublic sibling Lowe, New York, the incumbent, will not participate in the review.

Test Man
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.

Among the questions facing a new agency is the evolution of the Test Man campaign, which features the catchphrase "Can you hear me now?" uttered by a nerdy-looking Verizon worker constantly checking the wireless network's service.

The spokeswoman said the review does not necessarily mean the demise of the character. "We're happy with the Test Man campaign right now," she said.

$315 million
Verizon Wireless, the nation's largest wireless carrier, 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. Those regional accounts are not affected by the review.

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

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