The creative review for American Express' Open is in the early stages, with replies to the company's request for proposals due back this week.
Media spending on the brand exceeded $36 million last year, down from $52 million in 2010 and $41 million in 2009, according to Nielsen. Those figures don't include online spending.
Boston-based consultancy Pile + Co. is managing the search. Typically, Pile initially contacts no more than 10 agencies at this stage, asking for case histories and a video featuring executives who would work on the business.
The incumbent, MDC Partners' Crispin Porter + Bogusky, is expected to defend.
Crispin has handled the business since 2007  and helped develop—along with Digitas—the "Small Business Saturday" initiative that Open bowed in 2010. That effort has won several industry awards, including a gold in brand experience at the 4A's Jay Chiat Awards for Strategic Excellence in 2011 .
Before Crispin, longtime AmEx lead creative agency Ogilvy & Mather had handled Open, including the product's launch in 2002.