BMA Honors Harrobin

NEW YORK Accepting the Business Marketing Association’s Communicator of the Year award at the Tavern on the Green here today, John Harrobin, vp of advertising and digital media at Verizon Wireless, reminded the audience that positive interaction with consumers, not just marketing, builds successful brands.

“Our brand’s reputation and vision is not just based on advertising,” Harrobin said, citing factors such as a reliable network and customer service representatives who are familiar with the products and “don’t learn about them from PowerPoint” as the building blocks for corporate growth.

“All I have to do is tell people about it,” he said.

Harrobin was honored for helping make Verizon Wireless “a brand built on the reliability of its network,” said David Forgione, vp of business-to-business at The Wall Street Journal, when introducing him. The Journal co-sponsored the event.

The presentation was held in conjunction with the industry’s ongoing Advertising Week celebration.

Harrobin also gave credit to his various agency partners: McCann Erickson (creative), R/GA (interactive) and Zenith (media). The client’s account has been with Interpublic Group’s McCann since 2003, after its previous agency, Bozell, was merged with Lowe.

He noted the difficulty of the challenge facing all his agencies and Verizon Wireless during a period of “all-time intensity in terms of fierce competition” among mobile carriers.

“There are more than 2 billion mobile customers in the world, and everybody wants to do new things” on their phones, Harrobin said. “It’s a source of news and entertainment,” and the challenge now is for mobile providers and content producers to help “take the mobile platform where it wants to go.”

Thom Gruhler, an evp at McCann who followed the account from its Bozell days, said that over the next year his agency would “help [Verizon Wireless] launch new innovations, many of which are platforms for advertising.”

Previous winners of the award include Tom Brokaw, publisher Malcolm Forbes and former New York City Mayor Ed Koch.