The consulting arm of accountancy Deloitte & Touche has asked 10 agencies to provide information regarding TV media research and optimization capabilities on behalf of Allstate Corp., sources said.
Allstate, the Northbrook, Ill., insurer, spent about $75 million on ads last year, but sources said only the network buying portion of the account, worth more than $35 million, is being evaluated. Responses are due Friday.
The fact that a traditional consulting company has entered the field of media buying evaluations, and the nature of its request for information, took many of those who received Deloitte's questionnaire by surprise. Sources said it was the first time in memory that they have received a media questionnaire from a traditional consultant and the first time that optimization was a condition for selection.
The letter states that as part of its "service evaluation," Deloitte "is currently working for a Fortune 100 client that is considering decoupling its existing television media research and optimization services for its advertising agency and possibly outsourcing it to another."
"It's odd terminology and an unusual request," said an executive whose shop was contacted.
Leo Burnett in Chicago has been Allstate's lead agency for more than 40 years, handling the client's creative duties and media planning and buying. Burnett declined comment. Deloitte has spent the last few months assessing Allstate's overall spending, sources said.
It was unclear why the second largest personal insurer behind State Farm would consider shifting its TV buying. Leo Burnett does use optimizing software, which assists in the buying and planning of media.
A Deloitte representative in Chicago confirmed the search, but declined to name the client or call it a review. He said the "information gathering" process was intended to assess "cost production overall."
--with Scott Hume and Trevor Jensen