In what Business Insider is calling “The first domino from the ANA ad agency rebate report,” JPMorgan’s U.S. consumer and commercial banking division Chase hired auditors to examine its relationship with Pubicis media agency ZenithOptimedia, which handles media buying for the brand.
Following the report released earlier this month, which alleged widespread non-transparent business practices by media buying companies, which was widely denounced (of course) by advertising holding companies, it’s perhaps unsurprising that a client would resort to such an approach. A Business Insider source told the publication the decision to bring in the auditors two weeks ago was “a direct response to the high-profile report,” although other sources contend the audit had been in the works for months.
Of course, the fact that auditors was hired does not mean that there’s evidence of any wrongdoing or non-transparent business practices on ZenithOptimedia’s part, but it could potentially to a contract renegotiation or other action.
“We have launched an audit of Zenith, and have paused new work with them in the meantime. They’ve been cooperative, and we look forward to completing this quickly,” a spokesperson told Business Insider’s Lara O’Reilly.
A Zenith spokesperson followed: “We have a great relationship with JPMorgan Chase, with a strong partnership for more than a decade. Audits are a standard part of the business process. We look forward to a collaborative audit process and a continued relationship.”
Another source tells the publication that Chase is considering launching an in-house, programmatic unit for ad buying, bypassing the need for an outside media buying agency. It will be interesting to see Chase’s next move following the audit, and if other clients follow suit in the wake of the ANA report.
Chase has recently made some changes on the creative side of its agency roster, choosing VaynerMedia as its social media AOR in May.