Compass Bank has narrowed the review for its $8 million account to four finalists, sources said last week.
Among the final contenders are McKee Wallwork Henderson in Albuquerque, N.M., and DDB Dallas. Two other shops remained unidentified.
McKee and DDB both declined to confirm or deny their participation in the review when contacted by Adweek.
The Birmingham, Ala.-based financial institution began a search earlier this year when its agency of record, The Richards Group of Dallas, opted to work with competitor Guaranty Federal Bank.
Apparently no Alabama agencies are under consideration. Several in-state shops said they had unsuccessfully queried the client about getting a shot at pitching.
"We were told that they didn't think anybody around here could hack it, and they weren't interested in even giving anyone a chance to try," said one in-state agency executive. "I guess they think they're too good for Alabama."
Phone calls to client director of advertising Eleanor Strickland, spokesperson Tom Dingledy and Peter Coughter, the Richmond, Va., consultant conducting the review, were not returned.
Compass has $18 billion in assets and operates about 320 branches in Alabama, Arizona, Florida, New Mexico and Texas, according to Hoover's Online.
The Richards Group launched Compass Bank's first major branding campaign in the early 1990s as the institution was on an acquisition spree to build its financial network. Compass positioned itself as an alternative to larger, more established banks that charge high fees for ATM usage and other customer services.
A series of exuberant billboard executions produced by The Richards Group celebrated gratis customer services offered by Compass, such as "Freeeeeeeeeeeee" checking accounts.