HSBC’s Creative Review Ends in a Split Decision

Grey, JWT and Saatchi to share business globally

HSBC has split up its global creative business.

After years of parking the bulk of its advertising assignments at JWT, the bank has divided them among JWT, Grey and Saatchi & Saatchi, with the bulk of the business now at JWT and Grey. So, no winner take all in this global pitch.

(The media portion of the review has yet to conclude. It's down to the incumbent, Mindshare, and another agency that could not be ascertained. A decision is expected in about two weeks, an HSBC representative said.)

HSBC, with an annual global media spend of about $400 million, was among the most coveted accounts in review this year. The process actually began last year and involved an outside consultancy that specializes in procurement and supply chain optimization.

Going forward, WPP Group units JWT and Grey will function as co-lead agencies, based on the number of assignments they'll handle, and Publicis Groupe's Saatchi will be a third player, the HSBC rep said. When asked about the rationale for going from one agency to three, the rep said, "It's a question of aligning the right people to our global businesses. We wanted to make sure it was the right fit for us."

HSBC has four core lines of business: investment banking, commercial banking, private banking and retail banking.

Going forward JWT will handle global brand advertising; ads for retail banks in North America, the Middle East and the Asia-Pacific region (where the agency partners with fellow WPP shop Bates); global ads for private banking; and global ads for Advance checking, according to HSBC.

Grey will create ads for retail banks in Europe and Latin America; ads for an HSBC-owned bank in the U.K. called First Direct; global ads for commercial banking; and global ads for investment banking.

Saatchi's assignment encompasses global ads for HSBC's "premier and wealth proposition" offering and global ads related to sponsorships.

"We are confident that the working practices of our strategic partners will align to our own operating model, supporting our aim to be the world's leading international bank," said Chris Clark, HSBC's group head of marketing.

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