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Updated: Nationwide Insurance Goes Into Play

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NEW YORK Nationwide Insurance has launched a review of its ad account, the client has confirmed.

Last year, the company spent nearly $185 million in major measured media, according to TNS Media Intelligence. Spending through the first nine months of 2008 exceeded $180 million.

Both creative and media duties are in play, and Nationwide is using ABA Consulting in Addison, Texas, to manage the process, said sources. The client, however, may hold separate pitches for creative and media, according to sources.

The lead creative incumbent is Interpublic Group's TM Advertising in Dallas and the lead media incumbent is IPG's Universal McCann in New York. TM plans to defend, said agency president Tom Hansen.

Nationwide also uses WPP Group's Wunderman here for direct marketing duties, but it was not immediately clear if direct marketing duties are part of the creative review. Wunderman, UM and ABA could not immediately be reached.

In a statement, a client representative said that Nationwide executives "periodically . . . open the door for other agencies to present fresh perspectives," adding, "We will work with [ABA] to determine which agencies may be qualified for our review process."

Among the key decision-makers will be executive vice president and chief marketing officer James Lyski and Steven Schreibman, vp, advertising and brand management. Schreibman joined Nationwide in December 2003 from Limited Brands, where he was director of marketing for the company's Victoria's Secret Stores division, and Lyski came aboard in October 2006 from Cigna HealthCare, where he was svp for strategy, product and marketing.

A request for proposals sent to creative shops asks about experience in the financial services category and working with outside agencies, said a source. That document is due back on Jan. 12.

Contacted media shops, meanwhile, had to signal their intention to participate last week. Nationwide intends to select media semifinalists the week of Jan. 26, said a source.

Since 2004, Nationwide has used the tagline, "Life comes at you fast," in a series of TV spots featuring quasi-celebrities such as Fabio, Kevin Federline and MC Hammer. A recent spot, which broke in August, featured former American Idol contestant Sanjaya Malakar.

Each execution shows how fleeting fame and fortune are with, for example, Federline rapping in a video one moment and cooking French fries in a fast-food restaurant the next. The ads urge consumers to prepare financially so they won't be bereft if fate strikes.

This story updates an earlier item with client confirmation and additional details.