$120 Mil.+ Wachovia Review Begins

NEW YORK Wachovia has placed its online and offline creative and media in review and is in the process of hiring a search consultant to oversee the process, a client representative said today.

The Charlotte, N.C.-based bank spent $120 million in measured media last year, per Nielsen Monitor-Plus. Both offline and online assignments are in play, with a decision expected sometime in the third quarter, the rep said.

Interpublic Group’s Mullen in Winston-Salem, N.C., has handled offline creative and media since 2001. Aegis Group’s Carat Interactive in Boston has handled online chores since 2003.

The Wachovia rep said the incumbents are invited to defend. Officials at both Mullen and Carat declined comment.

Management changes at the financial services firm are driving the review. Art Smith, director of global brand management, who joined Wachovia in December from a unit of H&R Block, and CMO Ranjana Clark, a longtime bank executive who ascended to the top marketing slot a year ago, will be the key decision makers in the review.

Another key motivation is the length of time the incumbents have worked on the business, the rep said, adding that the move to review is not based on displeasure with either agency’s performance.

LendingTree, another big Mullen account (at its Wenham, Mass., headquarters) in February shifted some chores to Havas’ Euro RSCG in New York, though Mullen remains on LendingTree’s roster.