McGarry Bowen Muscles in on Verizon

NEW YORK — More than a month after startup shop McGarry Bowen produced a 9/11 tribute spot for Verizon Communications, the New York agency is presenting new work that could result in a second, significant assignment, sources said.

While a wholesale shift of the account does not seem likely, the return of McGarry Bowen on the scene is undoubtedly a source of concern at Lowe, which has handled the estimated $100 million account since early 2001.

Talks are taking place among high-level executives, with McGarry Bowen principals meeting with Bruce Gordon, president of Verizon’s retail markets group, said sources.

Gordon’s involvement is an outgrowth of the 9/11 “Lady Liberty” project, in which he played an active role, said sources.

Gordon’s authority over the company’s marketing has solidified in recent months. Verizon’s top marketing post, svp/brand management and marketing communications, has been open since July, when Jody Bilney left to become chief marketing officer at Charles Schwab Corp.

Lowe is taking the encroachment seriously. Chief creative officer Gary Goldsmith has met with Gordon several times in recent weeks in an attempt to fend off the interlopers with new creative concepts, sources said.

Gordon Bowen, the creative director at McGarry Bowen, has successfully muscled in on other agencies’ accounts in the past year, including AT&T at Young & Rubicam and American Express at Ogilvy & Mather. A Verizon representative would not comment. McGarry Bowen and Lowe executives also declined comment.

Lowe’s most recent TV work for Verizon spoofed trendy technology in offices and ran during the summer. Current spots, from IPG sister shop DraftWorldwide in New York, tout a bundled service plan dubbed “Veriations All” and include a walk-on by Verizon spokesman James Earl Jones.