Gordon Bowen, John McGarry Set Up Shop

Three former top-level Young & Rubicam executives have teamed with freelance creative director Gordon Bowen to open a new agency here called McGarry Bowen, one of the principals confirmed last week.

The key players are John McGarry, former president of Young & Rubicam Inc.; Stewart Owen, former chief strategic officer; and Stan Stefanski, former CFO.

The high-profile team is assembling the agency after producing a 9/11 tribute commercial for Verizon Communications, the first pro ject created under the new agency banner.

Owen confirmed that he and his partners were forming a new shop, but declined to discuss it further.

The concept for the spot, which was produced pro bono and ran last week, was shopped around to several corporations, inclu ding Citibank, a former Y&R client with which McGarry had strong ties, said sources.

The commercial, titled “Lady Liberty,” fea tures black-and-white images of young children looking up at the Statue of Liberty backed by the lyrics, “I pray you’ll be our eyes, and watch where we go and help us be wise in times when we don’t know.”

The anthemic spot, which ran in 90- and 60-second versions, was directed by Leslie Dektor.

A Verizon representative characterized the spot as a one-off and said it had no bearing on the company’s relationship with Lowe in New York, which handles the estimated $400 million Verizon Communications account.

But with Bowen’s track record of moving in on agency business, Lowe is said to be paying extra attention to Verizon. Last week, one agency executive remarked that any shop with clients that would be especially attracted to Bowen’s “humanist touch”—such as Hallmark and Kodak—”better be on their feet.”

Recently, Bowen has produced campaigns for American Express and AT&T.