With Future Assignments In Mind, Shops Vie For Schwab Sports Work

Charles Schwab & Co. has drawn up an all-star list of contenders for its $30 million sports sponsorship account, most recently handled by Lowe & Partners/SMS.
The shops involved, however, are sensing a bigger opportunity, with the client hinting at more assignments on its estimated $120 million account, said sources.
Schwab has invited nonroster shops Wieden & Kennedy, Portland, Ore.; TBWA Chiat/Day, Venice, Calif.; Foote, Cone & Belding, San Francisco; and BBDO New York to compete for the creative-only business, said Len Short, executive vice president of advertising and brand management for the San Francisco-based financial services company. “We expect to make a decision in the next four to six weeks,” said Short. The business includes ads for the client’s sponsorship of the PGA Tour, U.S. Ski and Snowboard Association and other sporting events.
Short confirmed the assignment is “potentially broader” than sponsorship ads, but declined to elaborate. The winning agency, said sources, could eventually pitch Schwab’s
$40 million OneSource mutual funds account, now handled on a project basis by Cohn Godley Norwood in Boston. Schwab could also ask its roster shops to compete for a corporate branding effort, added sources. Media duties, at Rubin Postaer and Associates and The Media Edge, are unaffected. Executives at the various agencies declined comment.
Los Angeles-based Suissa Miller Advertising and its recently won $40 million core brokerage services account are not involved, said Short.
Schwab split with Lowe after the shop entered the review for Merrill Lynch’s $70 million ad account, creating a conflict. Lowe was cut from that contest, but will not be invited to compete for Schwab because that would “undermine” the four contenders, said Short.
The financial services company spent $95 million on advertising in 1997, per Competitive Media Reporting, and plans to boost ad spending this year. –with staff reports