Hotlines: Late-Breaking Industry News

Bank of America to Review $250 Mil. Media Account

NEW YORK Bank of America has placed the media portion of its ad account into review, sources said. The Charlotte, N.C.-based financial services giant spent $250 million in U.S. measured media last year, per Nielsen Monitor-Plus. The bank’s overall global marketing spend is estimated at about $600 million. The incumbent on the media account is Chicago-based Prometheus Media Services, a unit of Omnicom’s OMD. Sources said the client was displeased last month when Omnicom’s TBWA\Chiat\Day in Playa del Rey, Calif., won the $130 million account of BofA competitor Washington Mutual. (WaMu said that Omnicom Media Group, which oversees OMD and PHD, would handle media chores.) Other sources said the client had issues with the incumbent’s handling of the account. A BofA rep reached late Friday would neither confirm nor deny that the media account has been put into review. “It’s premature to discuss any future marketing plans,” the rep said, declining further comment. Agency executives could not be immediately reached for comment.

Former Lowe CEO Judge Opens Womenkind With 3 Partners

NEW YORK Four partners, including former Lowe worldwide CEO Jerry Judge, have launched Womenkind, a New York agency that will use a network of women to conceptualize and execute ads that will be designed to appeal to women. Opened last week with minority funding from institutional investors, Womenkind will also provide business consulting and technology solution services. The other partners are a former creative team from Ammirati Puris Lintas—Kristi Faulkner and Sandy Sabean—and former WPP chief technology officer Steven Leitner. The premise behind the startup is that women make some 85 percent of all brand purchases yet are often not influenced by traditional brand messages, said Judge. To execute work, the agency will use a pool of mostly female freelance talent—or “mavens”—that includes creative directors, art directors, copywriters, marketing executives and producers. To develop ideas, markets or direction for brands, Womenkind will tap a group of “muses” that includes small business owners, mothers and activists. Womenkind opens without clients but plans to target categories such as automotive, financial services and pharmaceuticals.

McCann Erickson, 3 Others Chase New Microsoft Project

NEW YORK Four agencies have been briefed on a new creative assignment from Microsoft that sources said could be backed by at least $50 million in media spending. Sources identified the contenders as Microsoft lead agency McCann Erickson in San Francisco, WPP’s JWT in New York, Publicis’ Fallon in Minneapolis and MDC’s Crispin Porter + Bogusky in Miami. Pitches are slated for next month, with a decision expected as early as January, per sources. The assignment is said to be consumer oriented. Fallon and JWT declined to comment, Crispin did not return calls and IPG’s McCann referred calls to the Redmond, Wash.-based client, which confirmed the search (and McCann’s participation) but declined to discuss details. The pitch will not affect the status of the lead agency, and media duties for the new assignment will be handled by IPG’s Universal McCann, the lead media shop, a Microsoft representative said. Microsoft’s domestic media spending totaled about $350 million last year and more than $200 million in the first eight months of 2007, per Nielsen Monitor-Plus. to Shut Dallas Office, Shift Work Elsewhere

NEW YORK Omnicom’s is shutting down its Dallas outpost, the company said. The 23-person office will be phased out by the end of the month. The agency laid off about 10 employees, per sources. The rest of the staffers will report to the shop’s Chicago office until the Dallas operation closes. The satellite office has handled clients Alcon, CIT, Affiliated Computer Services and 3M. A rep said the company is working with those clients to shift the work to other offices, primarily New York and Chicago. It will also offer some staff members opportunities to relocate.

Ex-Saatchi Executives Launch WPP-Backed Shop

NEW YORK Jan Jacobs and Leo Premutico, former executive creative directors at Publicis’ Saatchi & Saatchi, have unveiled a new agency: Johannes Leonardo, which WPP has taken a minority stake in. The agency has offices in Greenwich Village here with a “handful” of employees so far. Although no clients have been signed as yet, Jacobs said, “We’ve got a few things in the pipeline”

OfficeMax Pulls Spots After ‘Savage’ Host Utters Slurs

NEW YORK Office products chain OfficeMax late last week confirmed that it has pulled its ads from the nationally syndicated radio talk show Savage Nation, because the host, Michael Savage, went on an anti-Islamic tirade on his Oct. 29 broadcast. Citing Savage’s comments, the marketer said in a statement that it “will not knowingly promote discrimination, hatred or intolerance against any group or religion.” OfficeMax became the second major advertiser in two weeks to pull its ads from the show. A week earlier, business software maker Citrix pulled its ads after the broadcast in which Savage told Muslims to “take your religion and shove it up your behind. I’m sick of you.” Mark Masters, CEO of Savage Nation syndicator Talk Radio Network, did not return calls seeking comment.

North Face Replaces DDB With Factory Design Labs

BOSTON Seeking new media expertise as it prepares to press further into the ski and snowboard market, The North Face has tapped Factory Design Labs to handle its ad account following a review. The San Leandro, Calif.-based retailer of outdoor gear and apparel had previously worked with DDB’s office in Seattle. That shop did not defend, and other review contenders were not disclosed. North Face spent $4 million last year and $2 million during the first eight months of 2007 in domestic measured media, per Nielsen Monitor-Plus. Future spending should more than double, said Joe Flannery, client vp of marketing.