BofA Seeks IPG Partner for African American Ads

LOS ANGELES Bank of America and Carol H. Williams Advertising are ending their relationship, and BofA is seeking a new agency within the Interpublic Group to handle its African American account, a client representative has confirmed.

Carol H. Williams in Oakland, Calif., had handled the estimated $25-30 million account since February 2003. The shop resigned the business due to “philosophical differences with the bank” and “major disagreements as to how to effectively communicate with African American consumers,” according to a source.

BofA representative Scott Scredon confirmed that Carol H. Williams resigned the account, but declined to comment on the reasons for the split. Carol H. Williams officials declined comment.

“We wish Carol [Williams, agency CEO] continued success,” said Scott Scredon, adding that BofA would continue to work with the agency on an interim basis until a new shop is selected. “IPG is our agency of record right now and we will work through them to find an appropriate agency within IPG for the African American business.”

Recent ads from Carol H. Williams targeting the African American community touted BofA’s mortgage business, checking account services and other basics products.

Charlotte, N.C.-based BofA has not set a timetable for selecting a new African-American shop, said Scredon. The company also works with IPG units such as Deutsch in New York for general-market creative and media and Gotham in New York for business-to-business creative, as well as independent Lopez Negrete in Houston for Hispanic advertising. BofA spends approximately $150 million overall annually on ads.