Young & Rubicam is defending in a global review of creative duties on the Hilton brand, sources said.
The assignment includes corporate brand image duties as well as efforts backing Hilton's honors program, sources said. Account revenue is estimated at less than $5 million. Y&R's offices in Chicago and Irvine, Calif., handle the business.
The competition comes just a few months after Hilton moved its headquarters from Beverly Hills, Calif., to McLean, Va. That move resulted in changes in Hilton's marketing ranks.
A Y&R representative did not return calls and the New York consultancy managing the process, Joanne Davis Consulting, referred queries to the hotelier.
A Hilton representative would say only that the company has initiated "a closed review of a small number of agencies," but declined to reveal any parameters of the process.
The competition is limited to the Hilton brand and does not include the hotelier's other units. Hilton's broader roster of creative agencies includes Omnicom's BBDO in Atlanta, which handles Embassy Suites, and IPG's Draftfcb in Chicago, which has Hampton Inn and Homewood Suites.
WPP-owned Y&R added Hilton following a review in 2005. IPG's FCB, now part of Draftfcb, was the previous lead shop. Omnicom's OMD added media chores at that time.
Global ad spending on the Hilton namesake brand was not immediately available.
Domestic ad spending on the Hilton brand was $4 million last year, way down from $33 million in 2008, per Nielsen. All told, Hilton spent more than $50 million last year in U.S. measured media across its portfolio, down from more than $90 million in '08.