SAN FRANCISCO: FICO, best known for its credit scores, has restructured its global agency relationships to more strategically position the company to consumer and b-to-b audiences.
Last fall, FICO hired Access Communications to handle US product PR, in particular its scores and decision management tools and applications, said Steve Astle, VP of corporate communications at FICO. The company also hired VPG to oversee issues management and public policy issues. Fleishman-Hillard, FICO's previous AOR, will stay on to track US media coverage on weekly basis.
All three agencies will collaborate through weekly meetings, Astle added. The changes were, in part, because “the industry is changing so much with policy and regulation issues.”
“This is a good opportunity to educate people about FICO,” Astle said. “We're most famous for FICO scores but we also provide a wide range of other products.”
FICO's overall US budget is seven figures, he said.
The company also brought on Catalysis in the United Kingdom, Maisberger in Germany, and Image & Profile in Spain. FH previously handled FICO's European business, but no longer works with the company in this market. The agency did not immediately respond to requests for comment.
Michael Young, SVP at Access Communications, said the agency's primary remit is b-to-b communications, but it also recently ramped up consumer outreach. The consumer messaging emphasizes that FICO “is the score used by 80% or more of lenders,” Young said, adding the team will target consumer, lifestyle, and general news outlets, as well as use social media.
The PR team will also respond to Washington backlash against aggressive marketing from credit score companies. Young said FICO wants to differentiate itself against competitors and position itself as the most reputable score provider in the industry.
FICO's primary competitor is Experian's VantageScore scoring report.
Lori Teranishi, COO at VPG, said her agency is working to build a thought leadership program and assist FICO with issues management, including regulatory and industry issues.
"For thought leadership, we are working to help FICO increase mindshare among senior executives at the companies it serves," she said via e-mail. "From an issues perspective, FICO is focused on ensuring that media and government officials understand the role of FICO scores in the issuance and management of credit."