Verizon Miffed Over Deutsch Taking on MCI

Rankled that Deutsch is now handling all of MCI’s branded services, Verizon SuperPages is re-evaluating its relationship with the Interpublic Group agency.

At issue is whether both clients can coexist at Deutsch, which won MCI’s $100 million account earlier this month and Verizon SuperPages’ $30-50 million account last year.

“I don’t think anything has been resolved,” said a representative of Verizon Communications, parent of SuperPages. “I know that they [SuperPages executives] are talking to Donny [Deutsch] about it.”

IPG acknowledged that discussions are taking place to solve the problem. “We’re sensitive to this issue and we’ll work with the client to resolve it promptly,” said a representative.

Deutsch said his shop’s pursuit of MCI was cleared with his SuperPages client. Executives at Verizon Communications, how ever, were apparently not brought into the loop, sources said. Said one: “The problem came at the corporate level.”

The conflict issue does not appear to affect Verizon’s relationship with other IPG shops, including Lowe (communications), Hill, Holliday, Connors, Cosmopulos (regional wireless); Bozell (national wireless); and Draft (direct mar keting). “I think John Dooner has calmed them down as it relates to IPG,” said one source.

Shifting Su per Pages to another IPG shop is “possible at this point,” the Verizon rep acknowledged. In fact, IPG vice chairman David Bell is said to be offering the services of shops within the holding company’s Partnership network.

For its part, MCI sees no conflict. “The capabilities that Deutsch brings to MCI best serve our business needs at this time,” said an MCI representative. “The fact is, we don’t compete with Verizon in the yellow-pages business.”