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MetLife Puts its Account in Play

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Metropolitan Life Insurance, a longtime client of Young & Rubicam here, is contacting agencies about its advertising account, sources said.

Marketing executives have floated a budget of $50 million, according to sources. But MetLife, which is gearing up for an initial public offering next year, typically spends $20-30 million a year in measured media, according to Competitive Media Reporting.

A select number of shops have been invited to pitch the account, including the incumbent, which is expected to defend. Media duties, now at Y&R's The Media Edge, also appear to be in play. Y&R referred questions to the New York-based client, which could not be reached by press time.

Word of a review surfaced a few months after the insurance company tapped Atlanta consultancy BrightHouse to evaluate its marketing-communications strategy [Adweek, Aug. 7]. The review also reflects MetLife's desire to raise its profile within the investment community. As one source noted, the larger billings figure will send a message to Wall Street that MetLife is serious about marketing.

The insurer's most recent TV spots touted mutual funds, as well as auto and home insurance. The ads continue to incorporate images of Peanuts character Snoopy and uses the 15-year-old tagline, "Get Met. It pays." Last year, Y&R launched a campaign that reduced Snoopy's role to that of brand icon and played up MetLife's history and the diversity of its sales force.

Y&R has been MetLife's lead agency for at least 20 years. FCB Worldwide in New York handles direct, B2B and interactive duties, the latter through Web unit FCBi. K