BofA Won’t Renew Omnicom Deal

NEW YORK As it begins a review of media chores, Bank of America has confirmed that it would not renew its contract with Omnicom Group to manage and coordinate its advertising and marketing services when the agreement expires in March 2008.

Omnicom’s BBDO, the current lead creative agency, is getting first crack at becoming the primary shop under a new arrangement designed to give BofA more flexibility to work with resources outside Omnicom. (In that position, BBDO would still continue to guide all BofA marketing initiatives.)

Separately, the client confirmed placing its estimated $250 million media account in review. The incumbent, Prometheus Media, a unit of Omnicom’s OMD, has been invited to defend. initially reported that news on Friday.

Meanwhile, BBDO has been asked to write a proposal outlining how it would manage and coordinate BofA’s advertising and marketing services going forward.

A client rep stressed that for now, only BBDO has been asked to write such a proposal, and that a general RFP has not been issued. Only media is currently in play.

BofA has been pleased with BBDO’s work and its positioning of the company as the “Bank of opportunity.” That said, if BBDO’s proposal falls short, other shops would then get an opportunity to compete for the lead agency role, the rep said.

The financial services giant said it was abandoning the holding company approach mainly because it wants to have more control and choice in selecting agencies and specialized marketing service providers.

The client adopted the model five years ago, first with the Interpublic Group, and then, effective in 2005 following a hotly contested review, with Omnicom.

“While Bank of America gained operational efficiencies from the holding-company model, the approach limited our ability to align the best agencies and capabilities to our diverse set of businesses,” said Anne Finucane, the client’s CMO, in a statement.

Finucane added, “As the company continues to distinguish itself from others in a highly competitive financial services industry, operating under a new marketing paradigm will ensure that our efforts are delivering the greatest value for a diverse set of businesses and helping to accelerate the continued growth of our company.”

BBDO executives could not immediately be reached.

The client had worked almost exclusively with Omnicom shops over the past two years. But recently, IPG’s Hill, Holliday, Connors, Cosmopulos in Boston executed two campaigns for the bank’s Global Wealth and Investment Management division: one for U.S. Trust and another for the company’s individual retirement account services. Hill, Holliday would receive further assignments in the future, initially in the corporate social responsibility sector, the client rep said. Hill, Holliday executives could not be reached for comment.

Other non-Omnicom shops are expected to receive new assignments, the client rep added, but stressed that the company expects to continue working with a roster of Omnicom shops that includes Rapp Collins, for direct marketing; Organic, for online marketing; and TPN, for promotions.

As for the media review, the rep said that with all the changes occurring in the media world, coupled with BofA’s growth over the past couple of years, “It seemed like the right time to reevaluate our needs.”

Sources said the client was displeased when Omnicom agency TBWA\Chiat\Day in Playa del Rey, Calif., last month won the $130 million account of BofA competitor Washington Mutual.

At the time, WaMu said that Omnicom Media Group, which oversees OMD and PHD would handle media chores.

Sources said, however, that TBWA\C\D is expected to handle media planning and some media buying for WaMu, though the shop is looking for an unconflicted firm outside Omnicom to handle broadcast buying. TBWA\C\D declined comment.

Sources also said that BofA had specific issues with the way the media account was being run by Prometheus. Asked for comment on both concerns, the BofA rep said the company did not want to elaborate beyond confirming that it felt now was the right time to reevaluate it media needs.

This story updates and replaces an item posted Nov. 16 with client confirmation of the media review and additional information.