Contenders Emerge in Global HSBC Review

Lineup is a who's who among global networks

HSBC executives this week are briefing creative contenders in the bank's global marketing services review.

The bank, which spends an estimated $400 million in media globally each year, is reviewing all marketing services—from traditional, digital and direct marketing to media planning and buying—and the lead creative and media incumbents, JWT and Mindshare, are defending.

The other creative contenders represent a who's who among global agency networks. Sources identified the shops as Omnicom Group's BBDO, Interpublic Group's McCann Erickson, WPP Group's Grey and Publicis Groupe's Saatchi & Saatchi.

Most of the agencies are leading their pitches out of the U.K., where HSBC is based. The London office of Grey, for example, is the lead horse on that shop's pursuit of the business. The agencies and HSBC declined to comment.

In calling the review—its first in eight years—HSBC seeks to benchmark its current agency roster against the broader marketplace. Also, HSBC wants to ensure that agency and bank operating practices are aligned. Efficio, a London-based consultancy known that specializes in procurement and supply chain optimization, is managing the process.

In what would represent a break with current practice, HSBC is considering splitting lead creative responsibilities between two shops, according to a source. That would give the bank multiple options when developing new campaigns and would insulate shops with banking conflicts in certain markets.   

Among the key decision-makers is Chris Clark, the bank's group head of marketing. Clark, who has worked at HSBC since 2001, assumed the top marketing post in December 2010, 6 1/2 years after the bank consolidated the bulk of its business at units of WPP.

HSBC is expected to complete its review by March.