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Contenders Jockey as BofA Decision Nears

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NEW YORK As Bank of America's $600 million marketing services review heads into the home stretch, WPP Group has one less player on its team and incumbent Interpublic Group has visited client executives on their turf in North Carolina, said sources. The third contender, Omnicom Group, is said to be keeping to its strategy of building a dedicated, multi-disciplinary unit to handle the business.

A decision in the review—in which more than $65 million in revenue is up for grabs—could come as soon as this week, according to sources.

An early player on WPP's team, Berlin Cameron/Red Cell in New York, is no longer involved, leaving Ogilvy & Mather unit Soho Square as the lead ad agency on the team, said sources. Ogilvy account and strategic executives are said to be assisting the effort, which encompasses some 20 agencies, including Grey Direct and MediaCom. The agencies declined comment.

This week, on Tuesday and Wednesday, IPG CEO Michael Roth and top executives from Draft and Jack Morton (both of which currently work on the business) met with BofA execs at their headquarters in Charlotte, N.C., said sources. The Draft exec was Laurence Boschetto, president and chief operating officer of the agency's New York office, and representing Jack Morton was U.S. president Laura Shuler, sources said. IPG declined comment.

Omnicom's approach—a break with the past practice of leading with a single agency network—involves pooling resources from several shops to create the dedicated unit or "portal" [Adweek, Aug. 8]. Among those agencies are BBDO, Targetbase (for direct marketing), Doremus (business-to-business) and Organic (interactive).

BofA confirmed the review last month, amid talk that IPG chief marketing officer and account chief Bruce Nelson had clashed with Roth and was leaving, and said it hoped to conclude the process by the end of August. When reached this week, a bank representative declined comment.