A Vanguard Approach

NEW YORK Add The Vanguard Group to the growing list of financial services players that are reexamining their advertising accounts this year.

The mutual funds and annuity provider has contacted search consultants about managing a review of creative and media duties on its U.S. account, according to sources. Participating consultants were asked to respond to an electronic request for proposals three weeks ago. The consultants, which could not be identified, now await a selection.

Media spending on the account, which includes marketing efforts directed at both individual and institutional clients, could reach $100 million, said sources. That would represent a significant uptick from last year, when Vanguard spent nearly $40 million, according to TNS Media Intelligence.

The creative and media incumbents are the New York offices of WPP Group units Young & Rubicam and Mediaedge:cia, respectively. Y&R referred calls to the Malvern, Pa.-based client, who could not be reached by press time.

Since January, about a dozen clients in the financial services sector that represent more than $1.2 billion in media spending have launched reviews or shifted business. Among them are global Visa (2007 spend: $525 million), Wachovia Corp. ($145 million), LendingTree ($285 million), TD Ameritrade (media duties, $160 million), Discover Financial Services (media duties, $85 million), GMAC ($50 million), SunTrust ($50 million), Edward Jones ($35 million) and NYSE Euronext ($25 million).

Sources attribute the activity partly to turbulence in the financial markets, which has forced banks, for example, to rethink their marketing strategies. In addition, some clients are looking to cut marketing costs. “They were under the gun” before the collapse of the financial markets, said one source. “Now they’re way under the gun.”

Vanguard’s recent ad copy projects a value message, explaining that many investment firms “charge about six times as much as Vanguard.” The tagline is, “The simple truth about investing.”