Verizon Opens In-House Agency, Hires Andrew McKechnie From Apple to Run Creative

Telecom giant will produce more of its own campaigns

Andrew McKechnie left Apple to join Verizon's in-house agency. Verizon
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Today Verizon followed Sprint, Chipotle, Coca-Cola, Facebook and more in establishing its own in-house creative advertising agency.

The telecom giant, which is currently one of the five biggest ad buyers in the U.S., hired global group creative director Andrew McKechnie away from Apple to run the new department. The chief creative officer will work out of corporate headquarters in lower Manhattan, collaborating with a team of staffers who had been working across the Verizon organization and reporting directly to CMO Diego Scotti.

“This is something that Diego has been interested in developing over the past couple of years, but it felt like the right time now,” says McKechnie, citing “the competitive landscape of our business.”

So why is Verizon taking such a leap?

McKechnie, a copywriter by trade who formerly held creative director titles at agencies like DDB, Y&R and JWT, says the company wants to develop a more flexible approach to its own marketing efforts, adding, “The speed and efficiency aspect is critical for us.”

"It's a great opportunity to build something from the ground up rather than inheriting a legacy structure."
Andrew McKechnie

“We’re very aware of not just … following an existing model,” he says. “It’s a great opportunity to build something from the ground up rather than inheriting a legacy structure. There’s no group to dismantle.”

The new creative lead says his three years with Apple helped bring him closer to the company’s product as well as “the people who are living and breathing it every day,” arguing that such arrangements allow for a more seamless sense of collaboration.

Verizon competitor Sprint similarly began moving production work on its campaigns in-house in late 2015, creating its own Yellow Fan Studios division and eventually taking over all related duties from creative AOR Deutsch before dropping that agency altogether last November.

McKechnie says it’s too early to know how this announcement will affect Verizon’s relationships with its agency partners, which can number in the dozens at any given time. Earlier this month, the company split with Wieden + Kennedy after two years and sent its brand work to McCann New York without a review.

“No matter what, Diego is very passionate around the collaborations of all the partners,” McKechnie tells Adweek, adding, “In a lot of ways, the group I’m building will be just another agency … but we don’t want to have our capabilities overlap with those of other partners.”

For now, he is focused on building out the team that could eventually handle a significant portion of Verizon’s marketing efforts.

@PatrickCoffee Patrick Coffee is a senior editor for Adweek.