Bank of America's PR evaluation could prove costly for IPG firms

NEW YORK: Bank of America's (BoA) decision to give WPP and Omnicom a shot at its massive marketing account with the Interpublic Group throws open a slew of potential work to some of the largest agencies in the business.

NEW YORK: Bank of America's (BoA) decision to give WPP and Omnicom a shot at its massive marketing account with the Interpublic Group throws open a slew of potential work to some of the largest agencies in the business.

BoA's move, first reported late last month in Advertising Age, also highlights the fact that IPG's financial and accounting difficulties are having a tangible negative affect on client retention. Another issue is the potential departure from IPG of Bruce Nelson, who heads the account.

Representatives from WPP, Omnicom, and IPG all referred calls to BoA.

BoA spokeswoman Tara Burke declined to characterize the company's action as either an agency search or review. "It's not a review; there's no RFP out there," she said. "We're just evaluating the capabilities [of the holding companies]."

Burke said that "there are several agencies under IPG that service us for PR." Sources close to the talks said MWW Group was BoA's primary IPG agency, after the business moved from Weber Shandwick. The sources were unclear on the exact timing and reason for the shift.

WS referred calls about BoA to MWW CEO Michael Kempner. MWW, in turn, referred calls to IPG.

RF Binder, a part of the independent Ruder Finn Group, also works with BoA on crisis and media relations issues, such as last March's lost data tapes incident. A source close to the review said that RF Binder's work is unlikely to be impacted by the holding company contest.

Sources confirmed that IPG's financial woes were a factor in BoA's review. Talks with Omnicom and WPP were under way last week and would continue this week, and a final decision is expected by later this month or early September, sources said.

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