BB&T Seeks Successor to Howard, Merrell

ATLANTA BB&T said it is talking to several undisclosed agencies as it searches for a new shop to handle its advertising account.

The incumbent, Interpublic Group’s Howard, Merrell & Partners in Raleigh, N.C., said it would not defend the account. The shop has worked for the Winston-Salem, N.C., bank since 1995.

“BB&T’s decision to put forth an agency review provided us an opportunity to reflect on our current portfolio,” said Jim Cobb, the agency’s chief operating officer. “We saw this as an opportunity for Howard, Merrell & Partners to pursue new opportunities with other financial institutions who need the creative thinking, media expertise and strategic communications support we can provide.”

Ron Denny, a representative for BB&T, said of the parting: “We leave as very good friends.”

Howard, Merrell will continue to work for BB&T until a new shop is selected by the end of the year, Denny said.

The client spent $6 million on ads in each of the past two years, per TNS Media Intelligence/CMR.

The review follows management changes at BB&T in a year that included the arrival of new chief operating and financial officers.

The bank also is changing its growth strategy; rather than focus on acquisitions, it will seek to increase business at its existing 1,400 locations in the Carolinas, Virginia, Maryland, West Virginia, Kentucky, Tennessee, Georgia, Florida, Alabama, Indiana and Washington, D.C.

“We’re conducting a review based on a change in direction and strategy,” Denny said.