USAA Selects MullenLowe as AOR 2 Months After Breaking With Campbell Ewald

By Erik Oster 

Diversified financial group the United Services Automobile Association (USAA) has appointed IPG’s MullenLowe as its new agency of record two months after canceling its contract with Campbell Ewald (which won the account in December of 2008) in the wake of the racist “Ghetto Day” email incident at Campbell Ewald San Antonio and the subsequent firing of CEO Jim Palmer. Sources close to the matter told Adweek that MullenLowe won the business without a review.

“USAA is in the process of transitioning its advertising business to MullenLowe U.S., a unit of the Interpublic Group,” said USAA public affairs director Roger Wildermuth. “Following the transition, MullenLowe will be responsible for strategic and creative leadership on USAA brand and product advertising across the company’s multiple business lines. MullenLowe will service the USAA business from an office in San Antonio, TX, with additional support provided from the agency’s offices in Boston, MA and Winston-Salem, NC.”

An IPG representative told Adweek that the holding company plans to “transition our USAA team into a standalone, purpose-built entity over the next few months.”

Sources told Adweek that the office in question will be a new one devoted entirely to MullenLowe. Contrary to earlier reports, several members of the C-E team that handled USAA will remain on the account after it transitions. An IPG spokesperson tells us, however, that these individuals will not include any of those who played leadership roles on the business.

Specific dates for the completion of said transition, or when we can expect future USAA campaigns from MullenLowe, remain unclear. According to Kantar Media, USAA spent around $146 million on measured media domestically in 2015.