Verizon Narrows to 4 Agencies

Verizon Information Services has selected four finalists in its $30-50 million Yellow Pages review: Deutsch, New York; The Richards Group, Dallas; Temerlin McClain, Irving, Texas; and Philadelphia shop Tierney & Partners, sources said.

The agencies were briefed Friday at Verizon Information Services’ office in Dallas, according to sources. Strategic and creative pitches are scheduled for the end of February, and a selection is expected shortly thereafter.

The participating agencies either declined comment or could not be reached.

The review began last month [Ad week, Dec. 18], when the client issued a request for proposals to 15 shops across the country, including Verizon roster and nonroster shops.

The RFP asked for capabilities in a number of below-the-line disciplines, including direct marketing and interactive advertising, suggesting that the client was looking for an integrated approach. Ethnic advertising also is part of the mix.

The account, which includes duties on—an electronic version of the Yellow Pages—is seen by some as a platform for breakthrough creative.

Years ago, the former Chiat/Day in New York created a memorable pun campaign for the former Nynex Yellow Pages—a Verizon ancestor—that used slapstick visuals to illustrate listings such as “Rock drills,” “Furniture stripping” and “Civil engineers.” The “Human Cartoons” campaign ran from 1987-91.

As one source put it, “There is a history of some good work out there.”

Managing the review is Mary Maroun, former president of TBWA\Chiat\ Day in New York. Interestingly, Maroun managed the Nynex business when it was at that agency; she now runs a New York consultancy called Combustion.

Client executives participating in the search include Marilyn Burrows, executive director of marketing. Maroun and the company could not be reached by press time.

Verizon Information Services was formed last summer through the merger of Bell Atlantic and GTE. Its search is one of a passel that were triggered by the merger, including those for Verizon’s regional wireless divisions. (See related story on page 10.)