New Verizon plans print to usher in merged unit

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Bell Atlantic Corp. and GTE Corp. are expected to tout the new Verizon brand in print ads on June 30, the date marking the formal close of the companies' merger.

The Federal Communications Commission approved the $70 billion union of the two telecommunications companies on June 16 after more than two years of negotiations and regulatory hurdles. Together as Verizon Communications, the two regional powerhouses will reach one-third of all homes in the U.S. across 40 states.

Verizon Wireless, a combination of the Bell Atlantic Mobile and GTE wireless businesses, is projected to garner a 33% share of the U.S. wireless market, or more than 25 million subscribers, according to International Data Corp., a technology consultancy and research organization. The merger is expected to allow Verizon to offer a host of bundled services including voice, data, high-speed Internet and more.

Print ads will break in leading newspapers such as The New York Times and The Wall Street Journal, along with other major U.S. dailies, touting Verizon as a top-tier communications provider with vast technology capabilities, rather than as a telephone company. The ads will feature the new Verizon red "V" logo, which has already debuted in TV and print ads for Verizon Wireless via Bozell, New York.


The merger is not expected to spark shifts among Bell Atlantic and GTE's roster shops in the short term, according to Janet Keeler, senior VP-marketing services and brand management for Bell Atlantic. By short term, Ms. Keeler stressed that no changes were likely before yearend. She said a review is not in the cards.

"There's no review at this time, there's just too much to be done," she said, adding, "we're not focusing on it, not this year." However, she said that some projects might be "rotated" around on an as-needed basis.

Bell Atlantic's lead agencies are Arnold Communications, Boston; and Lord Group and Draft Direct, both New York. Zenith Media, New York, is Bell Atlantic's media buying agency, and it has also handled preliminary media buying for Verizon. GTE's agencies are Ogilvy & Mather, Dallas and New York, and True North Communications' Temerlin McClain, Irving, Texas.

Among the five roster shops, there is more than $300 million in billings at stake, and that number is expected to grow. The figure is said not to include Verizon Wireless.

While agency shifts aren't expected right away, people close to Verizon said that eventually the roster will be slimmed down to two shops. One insider said Lord and Ogilvy were poised to pick up the lion's share of the work.

By early August, Ms. Keeler hopes to launch Verizon's brand identity more fully on bill statements, trucks, store signs, the Internet, phone booths and other outdoor venues. A barrage of TV and print is expected shortly thereafter.

DeSola Group, Landor & Associates and Lippincott & Margulies, all New York, participated in branding, corporate identity and naming issues for Verizon and continue to advise during the transition.

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