Verizon Gives Up On IPG Shops

After giving Interpublic Group three months’ worth of chances to come up with new ideas, Verizon Wireless gave up and threw its national account into review last week.

The Bedminster, N.J., client had challenged incumbent Lowe and sibling IPG shops McCann-Erickson and Hill, Holliday, Connors, Cosmopulos to develop the next phase of its “Test Man” campaign. And while some client executives liked McCann’s pitch, sources said there was no consensus. One source said Verizon reasoned: “If we’re unhappy, why don’t we just open ourselves up?”

The client spends about $700 million a year, including regional and direct-response ads. Lowe’s piece is said to be $300-400 million. The shop, which declined comment, is not expected to defend.

The review came at the end of a rough week for Lowe, which also saw global clients HSBC Group and Gillette launch searches. Lowe in London is lead creative agency on HSBC, which is reviewing all marketing services globally. Gillette is asking four roster shops, Lowe in London among them, to pitch the $50 million Braun business.

The move caught IPG by surprise. “We are proud that our work has helped build one of America’s most powerful brands, and we look forward to defending the business,” said a rep, declining further comment.

Finding a shop to take on the business may not be easy. Leo Burnett is the largest unconflicted global network in the U.S. Other sizable possibilities without wireless business include Havas’ Arnold, IPG’s Campbell Mithun and Carmichael Lynch, and independent Doner. McCann is expected to participate, sources said. The agency declined comment. —