Marketing officials from Wells Fargo & Co., which recently acquired Norwest Corp., met last week with both banks' ad agencies in what is expected to lead to a shootout for the combined $45-50 million ad account, sources said.
Norwest agency Carmichael Lynch, Minneapolis, and Wells Fargo agency DDB Needham, Los Angeles, were briefed on what was supposedly a project related to the merged company's future advertising, sources said. The winner of that project could wind up with the entire account.
Wells Fargo officials could not be reached for comment. Agency officials referred calls to the client.
The bank held meetings in October with the two incumbents and a number of unidentified branding companies to discuss how it should present itself as a merged entity. Bank officials at the time declined to call those meetings a formal review.
Wells Fargo spent $36.5 million on ads and Norwest Bank $9 million over the first 11 months of 1998, according to Competitive Media Reporting.
Carmichael Lynch's latest work for Norwest focused on its investment services and featured comedian Bob Newhart. The campaign was tagged, "To the Nth degree." Needham last year broke a campaign for Wells Fargo that leveraged the company's long-standing stagecoach logo and carried the tagline, "Fast then. Fast now."
The separate ad campaigns are expected to continue at least through the first half of 1999.
The $36 billion merger, completed in November, created the nation's seventh largest bank.