Verizon Hires Media Joint Venture

NEW YORK — Verizon Communications Inc. has selected Zenithmedia Inc. and Draft Worldwide to handle its media buying.

The media buying agencies are to work jointly on mass market and direct response work for Verizon Communications, Verizon Wireless and Verizon Information Services.

“This selection enables all Verizon business units to integrate their media buying nationwide through a ‘best-in-class’ provider,” said Bill McCarron, Verizon vice president for Media Services. The arrangement allows Verizon to leverage its position as the largest local U.S. telecommunications provider and to expand integrated media opportunities, he said.

Terms of the contract were not announced. Sources estimated the account is worth $500 million or more. Adweek.com initia lly reported Thursday that the assignment had gone to the Zenith unit alone.

Zenith and Draft will begin buying media in the first quarter of 2001 for ads for Verizon’s corporate, wireless and information services.

The consolidation will help create “unparalleled efficiencies and leverage in the marketplace, while ensuring continuity of media strategies at all levels,” said Fred Shaw, Verizon Wireless director of Media Services.

The joint venture of Zenith and Draft has the scale, scope, and team to d eliver all Verizon demands, said Wendy Marquardt, president of the media joint venture.

Atlanta-based Blueprint Communications assisted Verizon in the search.

Verizon Communications (NYSE: VZ), formed by the merger of Bell Atlantic and GTE, has more than 101 million access line equivalents and more than 26 million wireless customers and generated over $60 billion in 1999 revenues.