Online stock-trading software supplier TradeCast Securities is talking to three shops following its split with Doe-Anderson Advertising and Public Relations.
Houston agencies Bates Southwest, Rives Carlberg and Fogarty Klein Monroe are pursuing the account, sources said. Both Doe-Anderson and TradeCast agreed that roughly $10 million has been spent to launch the brand this year. The budget for the remainder of 2000 is less than than amount.
Doe-Anderson, Louisville, Ky., resigned the account less than a year after being awarded the business last September. Agency director of account services Michael Littman left to become TradeCast's vice president and director of marketing. Though several other key marketing employees at TradeCast are also ex-Doe staffers, both sides suggested familiarity proved to be less of a benefit than at first blush.
"We probably knew each other too well, and that worked to our disadvantage," said Dave Wilkins, Doe-Anderson's president and chief executive. "It wasn't working."
Last week, in a letter to Adweek, Litt-man wrote: "Heritage issues were difficult to overcome. We knew too much about them. They knew too much about us. Ultimately, relationships die when partners cannot understand the other side's needs.
"[The] huge workload, particularly in the interactive area, often with a short trigger on timelines, strained the account relationship," Littman wrote. "Our business plans changed dramatically mid-year as we learned the high cost of customer acquisition in a category dominated by ETrade and AmeriTrade spending.
"This did not change the amount of work required from the agency. It did alter the amount of compensation we were able to pay the agency. Doe felt that they were underpaid."
He said the review could ultimately include up to five agencies, with capabilities presentations set for the week of Aug. 21. Spec presentations by two or three finalists will occur the week of Sept. 25. A winner will be named the first week of October. The incumbent will continue to serve the client until then.
TradeCast software gives users direct access to domestic stock markets, supplying remote investors and brokers with real-time data analysis and execution. Littman said TradeCast's next advertising efforts will narrow the marketing focus by tightening targeted customer parameters.