6 In Contention For First Union Direct Account

Six agencies have been selected as semifinalists in the review of First Union Corp.’s consolidated $30 million direct marketing account.
The Charlotte, N.C.-based financial services company will hear capabilities presentations from Hill, Holliday Direct in Boston; Earle Palmer Brown in Philadelphia.; and FCB Direct, JWT Direct, Communications Plus and The Colligan Group, all in New York. The client hopes to consolidate the assignment at one or two shops.
Colligan is the only agency on First Union’s roster of 12-15 direct marketing shops involved in the pitch, said Skip Pile, president of Pile and Co., the Boston consultancy overseeing the search. Pile added that a cut to three finalists is expected to be made mid-month, with a decision coming in early February.
The bank’s consumer ad business, handled by Hal Riney & Partners in San Francisco, is not affected by the review, Pile said.
First Union, one of the nation’s 10 largest banking organizations with $168 billion in overall assets, is in the process of acquiring CoreStates Financial Corp. in Philadelphia for more than $16 billion. The deal, expected to be finalized sometime in the first quarter of 1998, will create a bank with total assets in excess of $210 billion and nearly 2,500 branches in Connecticut, New York, New Jersey, Florida, Georgia, the Carolinas, Pennsylvania, Washington, D.C., and elsewhere.
The pending acquisition did not prompt the review, but could add to the spoils for the winning shop, sources said. Although the process currently includes only First Union’s corporate direct marketing business and some product assignments, it is likely that $10-20 million in additional billings will be included once the CoreStates’ acquisition is finalized, sources said.
Review contender Earle Palmer Brown currently handles advertising and direct assignments for CoreStates. Pile declined to comment on whether CoreStates billings will be included.