Compass Bank’s Review Direction Includes MW

Compass Bank is looking for an agency for its $8 million account following the decision of its previous agency, The Richards Group, to team up with competitor Guaranty Federal Bank.
Agencies in the Midwest are among those that have been contacted by the Birmingham, Ala., bank, sources said.
Mark Gibson, director of marketing at Compass, is managing the review. He is assisted by consultant Peter Coughter, Richmond, Va. Neither Gibson nor Coughter were available for comment at press time last week.
Agencies have been told that eight shops will be invited to participate in an initial evaluation round. Compass began notifying selected agencies last week.
Richards, in Dallas, notified Compass in March that it won a review for the $10-15 million account of local bank Guaranty Federal and had elected to handle that business. Richards and Compass are continuing to work together under a termination agreement.
The Richards Group launched Compass’ first major branding campaign in the early 1990s as Compass was on an acquisition spree to build its banking network. Compass positioned itself as an alternative to larger, established banks with notoriously high fees for ATM use and other services.
A series of exuberant billboard executions produced by Richards celebrated “Freeeeeeeeeeeee” checking accounts and other gratis services provided by the bank.
Compass Bank has $18 billion in assets and operates about 320 branches in Alabama, Arizona, Florida, New Mexico and Texas, according to Hoover’s Online.
With Compass evaluating suitors, Guaranty Federal is planning to have Richards provide it with a major brand launch similar to the one that helped build its competitor during its early years. K