Bozell CD Fired After Faux Pas

Bozell last week fired group creative director Rich Levy after the New York shop learned he had suggested to Verizon Wireless that the account be shifted to IPG sibling Hill, Holliday, Connors, Cosmopulos, sources said.

Levy and Hill, Holliday’s chief integration officer, Laurel Rossi, recently proposed the idea at a meeting with Verizon Wireless’ vp of marketing, John Stratton, and vp of advertising, Marvin Davis, who both rejected the overture.

Stratton in turn alerted Bozell president Tom Ber nardin, who, with the client’s approval, dismissed Levy, sources said.

Levy, who had become unhappy at Bozell, and Rossi, who was trying to secure more Verizon business for Hill, Holliday, floated the plan without the knowledge of senior management, including IPG vice chairman David Bell, sources said.

Sources said Levy overestimated his clout with the client. “It comes down to ego and individual greed,” said one source. “It happens when people believe their own press. [Levy] made a monumental, stupid move, and it cost him his job.”

Without confirming the scenario, Levy told Adweek on Friday, “I feel I had an inappropriate conversation with the client. I admitted my mistake to Bozell management. For that I was fired.” He declined to elaborate.

“It was an internal matter that was appropriately resolved,” said Bernardin. He also declined further comment on the nature of Levy’s departure.

Hill, Holliday, which handles some regional advertising for Verizon Wireless, has been angling for portions of the national account for some time. During the past year, Stratton is said to have had the Boston shop in for presentations on the national business. “Bozell has had to work hard to defend the account,” a source said. A Hill, Holliday representative said, “We do not comment on client or personnel issues.”

Rossi remains at the shop but has been pulled off Verizon, sources said. She could not be reached.

The dismissal of Levy, who was largely responsible for Verizon’s “Test Man,” comes at a critical time in the campaign’s life cycle. New work is due to break in September, and it’s unclear who will take the creative reins following Levy’s exit.

Levy, who had worked on the $235 million account since Bozell won it in 2001, was at Bozell for six years. The client did not return calls.