Fleet Financial Group last week split its $150 million direct marketing account between Blau Marketing, Wilton, Conn., and Devon Direct Marketing & Advertising, Berwyn, Pa., following a review.
How the account will be divided is currently under discussion, although Betsy Richardson, senior vice president of corporate marketing at Fleet, said the aim is to give the agencies equal portions so "both the workload and the compensation are even."
The assignment covers direct marketing chores for Fleet's credit card business, which had been divvied up among various shops, as well as corporate direct marketing duties, formerly handled by Clarion Direct in Greenwich, Conn.
While Blau is new to Fleet's roster, sister agency Arnold Communications in Boston and its antecedents have been Fleet's agency of record on advertising for more than 40 years.
The assignment to Blau should lay to rest any speculation that Fleet's ad assignment will be reviewed, Richardson said, since the expectation is that there will be interplay between the sister shops. Boston-based Arnold and Blau are owned by Snyder Communications, Bethesda, Md.
According to Richardson, the decision was a difficult one. "There was no runaway winner. What it came down to was we believe the Blau and Arnold synergy is one we can make work to our advantage and Devon has history with the folks at Advanta." Both shops are "savvy on segmentation, research and one-to-one marketing concepts."
Devon handled Advanta Corp.'s $10.5 billion credit card portfolio, which Fleet bought in February to augment its existing credit card business.
Bozell Direct, New York, and Cohn & Wells, San Francisco, also competed for the account, although the door has not been closed on the latter. As specialists in merger communications, Cohn & Wells had worked for Fleet following its acquisitions of Shawmut National Corp. and National Westminster Bank. "We may continue to use that specialty," Richardson said.