Verizon Beckons 5 to Pitch for $20-30 Mil. Push

Verizon Communications, the regional telephone giant being formed via the pending
merger of Bell Atlantic and GTE Corp., has put out a call to five of its roster shops for a significant branding and product push scheduled for the fall.
Invited to pitch ideas are Arnold Communications, Boston, The Lord Group, New York, and Burrell Communications, Chicago, all Bell Atlantic shops, and Dallas agencies Ogilvy & Mather and Temerlin McClain, which work for GTE.
Janet Keeler, the client’s svp of brand management and marketing services, confirmed the contenders and said work will consist of both brand-building and product-specific executions.
Chores are likely to be divided among more than one shop, but Keeler emphasized that the entire Verizon account is not in play.
The budget for the fall effort is about $20-30 million, but concepts introduced in that push will likely be incorporated into subsequent campaigns, with total annual spending expected to be about $100-150 million, said sources. Shop executives declined comment.
Bell Atlantic and GTE have been sluggish in clearing regulatory hurdles, and the process of soliciting ideas from shops has been slow to develop, sources said.
But the pace will likely pick up following the Federal Communications Commission’s approval of the $52 billion merger, which occurred two weeks ago. The deal will close as soon as the companies comply with a mandate to divest interest in GTE’s Genuity Internet subsidiary.
Ads introducing the new name are slated to break around Aug. 1, Keeler said. The Lord Group, Ogilvy, Burrell and La Agencia de Orc’, an Hispanic specialty shop in Los Angeles, collaborated on that effort, she said.
Bozell in New York has this month launched an ad campaign for Verizon Wireless tagged, “Join in.” This operation is run separately from Verizon Communications.
Regardless of the outcome of the pitch for the fall push, all the roster agencies are expected to remain on board in some capacity. “They feel they need several good agencies to handle the workload,” said a source. “It’s never been winner take all [in terms of agency assignments].”