McGarry Bowen Overtakes Lowe

Bruce Gordon, president of retail markets for Verizon Communications, said last week’s hiring of McGarry Bowen fits into his plans to tap the “best resources” and described the New York startup as the lead creative shop on the brand. The move relegates Lowe to secondary status on one of its largest accounts.

“It’s my responsibility at Verizon to make sure I can get all of the best resources brought to bear” on the business, said Gordon.

McGarry Bowen is producing a new campaign without input from Lowe, despite Lowe’s eleventh-hour attempts to solidify its grip on the business. The multispot effort, expected to break toward the end of the year, will retain the “Make pro gress every day” tagline that Lowe debuted last spring, Gordon said.

Lowe’s New York office is ex pected to continue producing ads tied to specific offerings, such as Online DSL, but McGarry Bowen will now handle “corporate brand and image advertising,” which had been part of Lowe’s assignment. The arrival of the startup does not affect Verizon’s relationships with DraftWorldwide (direct marketing) and Zenith Media (media duties).

The Verizon account is estimated at $100 million, but it is unclear how much McGarry Bowen is picking up.

The early coup for 2-month-old McGarry Bow en, a partnership of former Young & Rubicam leaders, was the product of networking and persistence, said sources. CEO John McGarry has known Gordon since 1996, when McGarry tended to key corporate accounts as president of Y&R Inc. One of them was Nynex, which was handled by The Lord Group, then co-owned by Y&R. At the time, Bell Atlantic was merging with Nynex and Gordon was a top marketing executive at Bell Atlantic.

McGarry and Gordon kept in touch, and McGarry called Gordon around June to say that he planned to start an agency, Gordon said. About six weeks later, McGarry broached the idea of a 9/11 tribute spot, which became a trial run for the new relationship. The resulting spot, “Lady Liberty,” ran through the week of Sept. 8 and elicited “hundreds” of positive comments, Gordon said.

The addition of Mc Garry Bowen is another example of Gordon asserting his authority in the absence of a marketing chief—a position that has been vacant since July [Adweek, Oct. 28]. The move also serves as a “shot across the bow” at Lowe, said a source. Lowe has handled the consolidated creative account since early 2001.