First Union Puts $30 Mil. Direct Business In Review

BOSTON–First Union Corp. is looking to consolidate its estimated $30 million direct marketing business at one or two agencies, sources said. Currently, the business is split among about a dozen shops.
Pile and Co. president Skip Pile confirmed the Charlotte, N.C., financial services company has retained his Boston consulting firm to stage a review. He referred all other questions to the client.
New England, New York and Southeastern shops, as well as some of the client’s incumbent agencies, will be invited to pitch, sources said. Shops must have financial services and banking experience, no obvious conflicts and be large enough to absorb the account, sources said.
The review may also lead to a number of smaller assignments for specific First Union services, sources said.
Mitchell Kneece, First Union’s assistant vice president, corporate marketing, said the review does not include any of the bank’s consumer ad business, now handled by Hal Riney & Partners in San Francisco.
First Union, one of the nation’s 10 largest banks, controls more than $160 billion in assets. It is currently in the process of acquiring CoreStates Financial Corp. in Philadelphia for more than $16 billion. The acquisition is not a factor in the review, which is solely a First Union initiative, sources said.
First Union has nearly 2,000 branches. It claims a total customer base of 12 million and maintains offices in Connecticut, New York, New Jersey, Florida, Georgia, the Carolinas, Washington, D.C., and several other states.