Ten agencies have been approached by Morgan, Anderson & Co. in the review being conducted for Boston-based Liberty Mutual Co.
Among the shops contacted were Mullen, Wenham, Mass.; Hill, Holliday/Altschiller & Co., New York; and Ingalls Advertising and Holland Mark Martin Edmund, both Boston, industry sources said.
Of these four contenders, only Holland Mark Martin has an existing relationship with the client. The shop developed Liberty Mutual's corporate Web site and handles trade advertising for various business units, said agency chairman Bill Davis.
Ingalls may have an inside track as well, sources said. The agency's vice president of human resources, Rebecca Sullivan, is the wife of Steve Sullivan, Liberty Mutual's senior vice president of communications. Steve Sullivan is spearheading the search.
Both Sullivans were said to be on vacation last week and could not be reached for comment.
Hill, Holliday's New York office is being considered for the pitch even though its parent company, Hill, Holliday, Connors, Cosmopulos in Boston, is agency of record for John Hancock Financial Services, also in Boston, a direct competitor of Liberty Mutual, sources said.
The 10 contenders represent a "long short list," according to sources close to the review. It is expected that the list will be trimmed to five shops before the next round. A final decision is expected in April.
Morgan, Anderson was retained in January to conduct the review after Liberty Mutual put Wells BDDP on 90-day notice. The financial services company had worked with the agency for 11 years and has said it remains committed to "The Freedom of Liberty" positioning line crafted by the New York shop. The loss of the Liberty Mutual account was one of a series of blows to befall the troubled shop.