Axa Picks 3 Finalists

NEW YORK The Axa Equitable division of Axa Financial has selected three New York agencies to compete for its creative account. Estimated billings are $10-12 million.

The finalists are Publicis Groupe’s Publicis and two Omnicom Group shops, Merkley + Partners and Doremus, a client representative confirmed. Client executives are expected to brief the agencies next week, and final presentations will take place in late December or early January. The shops either declined comment or could not be reached.

The New York client, which markets life insurance and annuities, compiled its shortlist after visiting a half-dozen shops, according to sources.

Barbara Goodstein, executive vice president and head of marketing and product development, is leading the review. Goodstein joined the company in July from JPMorgan Chase, where she was senior vice president of personal financial services. New York consultancy Roth Associates, which did not return calls, is managing the search.

Axa’s creative incumbent, The Martin Agency in Richmond, Va., resigned the business in October to take on the account of Axa rival Genworth Financial. Martin had handled Axa since June 2002. Media duties are at Interpublic Group’s Initiative in New York.

In the first eight months of 2005, Axa spent roughly $3 million in major media on its Axa Equitable brand, according to Nielsen Monitor-Plus. Last year’s total was around $6 million, per the same media tracking service.