BofA Trims List to 4

By Joan Voight and Michael McCarthy

SAN FRANCISCO–Four media agencies have been named finalists for Bank of America’s broadcast ad buying account.

A list of nine agencies was shortened last week to SFM Media and Creative Media, both in New York, and International Communications Group and Western International Media, both in Los Angeles, sources said.

Billings are undisclosed, but industry estimates place them at $30-40 million. Officials at the San Francisco bank confirmed that broadcast spending comprises more than half of its total ad budget, believed to be $45-50 million. A decision is expected before June 1.

The bank’s new worldwide advertising agency, Deutsch, is collaborating with the client in the selection of a media agency, said Winifred Lee, BofA media manager. ‘It would not make sense for us not to include Deutsch in the review process,’ she said. ‘The two agencies are going to be working together.’

Deutsch, with offices in Santa Monica, Calif., and New York, was hired in March to oversee creative and media planning duties. The shop is also handling ad buying responsibilities until a media shop is selected, explained Lee.

The winning media agency is expected to handle buying on a global basis, said sources.

The bank took four months to select an advertising agency to handle its worldwide account. The review was drawn out after the client had the agency contenders make an unexpected second round of presentations.

Finalists in that review were all informed that the bank had initiated a separate media buying review, Lee explained. As soon as Deutsch won the creative business, it was asked to help out with the second review.

Deutsch’s first campaign is expected to break in the summer.

The media review originally encompassed agencies in the Midwest as well on the East and West coasts. All the agencies on the short list operate offices in both New York and Los Angeles.–with Kathy Tyrer and Cristina Merrill

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