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LendingTree Creative Decision Nears

3 shops made final presentations last week

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LendingTree is expected to hire a new lead creative agency in the next week or so, following final pitches last week.

Three shops are competing for the business, according to a source. The identities of the finalists could not be ascertained.

LendingTree, which acknowledged the creative search in June, had no immediate comment. The company’s svp of marketing, Fred Saunders, is leading the process.

The creative review followed a separate media review, which concluded with the hiring of Ocean Media in April.

LendingTree’s media spending has declined significantly since 2007, as the company spun itself off from IAC Corp. and sold its consumer mortgage division to Discover Financial Services.

In 2007, media spending approached $50 million, but that figure slid to about $40 million in 2008 and roughly $20 million in both 2009 and 2010, according to Nielsen. The total rose to more than $22 million last year. Those figures don’t include online spending.