BofA Contacts Consultants as Fleet Deal Looms

NEW YORK Bank of America is contacting consultants to help “improve the process of how the work gets done” between Interpublic Group shops and the financial services company, a client representative said on Monday.

Separately, BofA this morning said that it plans to buy FleetBoston Financial in a $47 billion deal, due to close in the first half of 2004.

The combined entity, which will retain the BofA name, will serve 33 million consumers nationwide and 2.5 million business clients in the U.S. and 34 other countries. The BofA representative declined comment on how the merger will affect the companies’ agency relationships; a Fleet representative did not return calls.

Bank of America, which spent nearly $200 million on U.S. ads last year, according to TNS Media Intelligence/CMR, works with Deutsch for creative and media and with Gotham for business-to-business creative. Hill, Holliday, Connors, Cosmopulos in Boston handles media and creative for Fleet, which put $45 million behind U.S. ads last year. All three shops are units of IPG.

The move to hire a consultancy comes one year after Charlotte, N.C.-based BofA selected a team of above- and below-the-line IPG units to create a coordinated, multidisciplinary marketing communications approach. Last October, the IPG squad, which included DraftWorldwide, Jack Morton Worldwide and R/GA, among others, triumphed over Omnicom Group in a two-month holding company shootout.

“We are extremely happy with IPG,” the BofA rep said. “The move to hire the consultant is all about improving the process of how the work gets done between the two companies. The point is not aimed at cost efficiencies.”