PNC Feelers Shock Ketchum

Even as its agency is in the midst of developing a major new branding campaign, PNC Bank has started contacting other shops about its $15-25 million ad account, sources said.
The financial-services giant has also tapped Richard Roth Associates in Chappaqua, N.Y., as a consultant.
The preliminary talks come weeks after PNC hired Denise Thorn Johnson in September as senior vice president, corporate marketing. Johnson managed the Fleet Bank account at Arnold Communications in Boston prior to joining PNC. She could not be reached for comment late Friday.
PNC’s longtime agency is Ketchum Advertising, Pittsburgh. Officials at the agency, who were considering creating a new tagline for the bank, expressed surprise at the move and declined further comment.
PNC’s current tagline is: “Where performance counts,” but that line had not been used for a while, sources said.
Roth is seeking basic information from agencies such as client lists, sources said.
It is unclear whether the Pittsburgh-based PNC will launch a full review, with a decision at least two weeks away. “It could go either way,” sources said. Should a review begin, the contest would likely include creative and media duties and focus heavily on retail strategies, sources said. Roth did not return calls seeking comment.
The client spent $14 million on advertising through the first six months of this year, per Competitive Media Reporting.
PNC’s offerings include consumer banking, commercial lending and institutional money management.
–with Aaron Baar