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Verizon’s shift to Wasserman puts cellular shuffle in motion

Verizon’s shift to Wasserman puts cellular shuffle in motion


Terry Lefton
Call it the cellular shuffle.

Following some internal changes at the company, Verizon has moved its NFL sponsorship business from Genesco Sports Enterprises to Wasserman Media Group as of this month. One minor impediment: Rival provider T-Mobile is an original Wasserman consulting client of more than a decade. However, Verizon vies with AT&T for the title of the largest cell company in America, while T-Mobile is No. 4. Consequently, T-Mobile has been quietly searching for a new consulting shop, and by the time you read this, sources tell us a full-blown agency RFP will be under way.

Of course, we recall from Verizon’s original NFL agency search two years ago that the number of sports marketing shops with relevant experience and without a conflicting telecom client are few. Whether that makes the search easier or more difficult is something about which we’re uncertain.

Genesco, which had been Verizon’s agency since it signed a four-year, $720 million hybrid content/sponsorship pact with the NFL in early 2010, retains some business-to-business, government and hospitality business.

Genesco could continue the daisy chain by pursuing T-Mobile’s business. T-Mobile has been largely out of sports since it failed to renew its NBA league deal last year due to its planned $39 billion sale to AT&T, which was later aborted after the Department of Justice voiced antitrust concerns. So with a possible fresh set of agency eyes, is there a new sports sponsorship in T-Mobile’s future? As they used to say back in Ma Bell’s analog heyday, “Hold the line.”

SPRING OLYMPICS: In any Summer Olympics year, attempts from marketers without Olympic rights to gain rub-off equity can be as interesting as the efforts from those that paid top dollar for the official rights. In regard to this competition, the race has already begun, as Royal Caribbean recently filmed some spots featuring two Olympic medalists. Diver Greg Louganis and figure skater Michelle Kwan pair off in their own version of the Olympics on behalf of the cruise line. The creative is expected to debut later this spring.

Scott Becher will manage efforts for clients like Party City and Office Depot for Zimmerman.
COMINGS & GOINGS: Adam Dettman
, GMR vice president of account services, is the new sponsorship chief at MillerCoors. Since he worked on the brewery’s business from his post at GMR, we assume he’ll know most of the client’s ins and outs even before starting the job, which is expected before the end of April. Dettman brings with him a considerable amount of beverage marketing experience, including five years at Gatorade and more than three years at Jim Beam Brands. Dettman replaces Ryan Luckey, who moved from director of sports and entertainment marketing to director of innovations and sustainability early this year. … Jim Pyne, who left IMG College as vice president of national sales late last year after a commission dispute, has resurfaced as chief partnership officer at the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. It’s a homecoming of sorts, since the Bucs drafted Pyne in the seventh round of the 1994 NFL draft and he spent four seasons with the team. … Scott Becher has joined Omnicom’s Zimmerman Advertising, Fort Lauderdale, Fla., as executive vice president/managing director of partnership marketing, a position in which he’ll direct sponsorship and promotional marketing efforts for clients including Party City and Office Depot. Becher, a former vice president at Clarion Marketing, has headed his own Sports & Sponsorships agency for 15 years. … Tony Andrea joins Strategic, New York, as executive vice president and a strong No. 2 to founder Peter Stern, whose agency’s biggest clients include Constellation Energy, Labatt and Hertz. Andrea, the former president of agencies Kaleidoscope and People & Properties, said he hopes to develop new properties internally and to use his background in golf to attract some clients interested in leveraging that sport.

Terry Lefton can be reached at