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Safeco Rolling Toward a Review

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Insurance and financial giant Safeco has hired a new marketing chief and is expected to begin a search for an adver tising agency to handle its estimated $7 million account.

Bruce Allenbaugh has been named senior vice president of corporate marketing. He was most recently marketing vp for digital agency Avenue A in Seattle.

Allenbaugh, 44, succeeds George Johnson, who left Safeco in March, just weeks after the company parted ways with its ad agency at that time, Seattle's WongDoody.

Since then, Safeco has parceled out creative projects to various local agencies, with Media Plus in Seattle handling media buying.

Ben Benson, national advertising manager for Safeco in Seattle, said the company will likely launch a review in July or August to find a new agency.

No agencies have been contacted yet. "We haven't sat down and discussed the details of the perfect agency," said Benson.

Allenbaugh has also held advertising and marketing positions at Nextlink (now XO Communications) and Pepsi-Cola. In a statement, he said he is "eager to find ways to energize the brand, products and distribution efforts."

WongDoody had worked on the Safeco account for less than a year after unseating longtime incumbent Cole & Weber.