7 Shops Show Off to Woo Citibank

Only TBWA\C\D and Fallon Are Left Vying for $150 Mil. Account
NEW YORK–Merkley Newman Harty turned a vacant storefront into Citibank central. Executives from Kirshenbaum Bond & Partners sang part of their creative presentation. Incumbent Young & Rubicam even hired a director to stage a play.
Despite the no-expense-spared theatrics, none of these agencies advanced in Citibank’s review for its $150 million account. Neither did Bartle Bogle Hegarty nor Messner Vetere Berger McNamee Schmetterer/Euro RSCG. Still contending are TBWA\Chiat\Day and Fallon, sources said.
Chemistry seems to favor TBWA\C\D, whose pitch team in-cluded executives from three offices, including Bob Kuperman, president and CEO of the Americas for TBWA Worldwide, sources said. Fallon’s creative concepts, meanwhile, struck a chord with Citibank executives, who, since the pitch two weeks ago, have traded enthusiastic e-mails with the agency, sources said.
Fallon and TBWA\C\D will en-gage in more meetings, which will likely involve high-level officials from Citibank parent Citigroup. Fallon and TBWA\C\D declined comment; Citibank could not be reached.
Although ultimately fruitless, the approaches of Kirshenbaum, Y&R and Merkley illustrate the lengths to which agencies go to win business. A long shot as the incumbent, Y&R seemed to go further than most, perhaps thinking it had nothing to lose.
The setting for Y&R’s “pitch”: an off-Broadway theater seating about 100. (Citibank’s team counted 13). The play, “Closer,” featured actors as consumers and showed how the Citibank brand could interact with them at an ATM, on a stairwell or on a coffee cup. The hour-long production, which included a video, was steered by advertising CEO Ed Vick. Y&R even presented client officials with a mock playbill.
A former drugstore was the setting for Merkley’s pitch, which began with a video montage illustrating the chaos of life, and ended outside under an arch of 500 red balloons resembling Citigroup’s logo. Via storyboards and print ads, the shop positioned the bank as a friend to consumers, offering guidance in an ever-changing world.
Although the substance of Kirshenbaum’s pitch could not be determined, the team broke into song during its presentation, which took place at its Soho office. K