SunTrust Prequalifies Review Contenders

ATLANTA SunTrust plans to send RFIs to an undisclosed number of agencies in the Southeast and Midwest within the next two weeks, sources said.

The Atlanta-based bank will select the agencies from information gathered in a questionnaire that was due back at the company last week.

Jane Bedford, president of The Bedford Group in Atlanta, which is handling the review, described the questionnaires as a “prequalifier” and “profile update.” She declined to say how many agencies received it or how many would receive the RFI.

SunTrust is putting its advertising account, valued as high as $35 million, into review after 40 years with its current agency, independent WestWayne in Atlanta. WestWayne has been invited to be an automatic finalist in the review and has said it would defend the account. SunTrust plans to select an agency by the end of September.

The bank spent slightly less than $20 million on advertising last year, according to TNS Media Intelligence, but has said it expects to increase that amount this year with a new branding campaign.

The bank expanded its retail branch network 30 percent earlier this year with the acquisition of National Commerce Financial Corp.