BofA Selects WPP Agency Team as Global Creative Lead

Hill Holliday given expanded duties

WPP’s Team Bank of America has been named the new global creative lead on the company’s business, replacing Omnicom’s BBDO after a review that kicked off in January, BofA confirmed.

In addition, the Charlotte, N.C.-based bank said it increased the creative role of roster shop Hill Holliday, with the Interpublic agency retaining marketing responsibility for BofA’s Merrill Lynch Wealth Management and U.S. Trust.

Starcom USA, a unit of Publicis Groupe, continues as BofA’s media planner, buyer and lead digital agency.

The Charlotte holding company is estimated to spend $2 billion globally on its communications, making the review one of the largest of the year.

In announcing the switch to WPP, BofA noted that the Dublin-based holding company has operations in 107 countries and brings the “scale and international reach to match Bank of America’s global capabilities." WPP’s Team Bank of America will be tasked with overall brand positioning as well as branding and advertising for consumer banking, global banking and markets, and global commercial banking divisions.

BofA and WPP did not identify which of the holding company’s operating units will be working on the business, but the pitch team was said to include executives from more than a half-dozen agencies, including those that already work for BofA, such as Brand Union. Beyond BBDO, the other finalists for the account were Hill Holliday, The Richards Group and a team comprised of Digitas and Starcom. Final presentations took place last week.

BBDO became the lead on BofA’s U.S. consumer retail business in 2006 when the bank consolidated its marketing at corporate parent Omnicom.

An agency rep declined to comment, referring inquiries to the client.

However, in an internal memo, the agency’s worldwide CEO Andrew Roberston said: “Our Bank of America team has worked tirelessly and passionately on the business, not just over the last four months, but for nearly seven years, often under extraordinary pressure. Our work helped drive sales. And beyond that, they set a new standard for effective integration of multiple agencies and disciplines.”

Robertson went on to say that “[we will] pick ourselves up, dust ourselves down, and start work on finding a new bank.”

In the wake of the 2008 collapse in the U.S. housing market and subsequent government bailouts, BofA, like a lot of banks, needed to reconsider its marketing strategy. Since 2007, BofA has used the tagline “Bank of opportunity.” Previously, when its marketing was handled by more than a dozen units of Interpublic Group, “Higher standards” was the tag.

The review committee includes a dozen or so marketing and corporate executives, including global strategy and marketing officer Anne Finucane and CEO Brian Moynihan.