IPG Bucks Incumbent Odds in Winning $170 Mil. Prize

New YORK — The Interpublic Group came from behind last week to beat Omnicom Group for Bank of America’s $170 million consumer and affluent-market account, triumphing in a review that almost no one expected IPG to win-including its own management.

“Even we thought this account was as good as gone,” said one executive involved in the two-month holding-company shootout.

In the past year, Bozell, the incumbent, saw Omnicom shops encroach on its BofA business. Omnicom’s Doremus, Arnell Group and BBDO picked up responsibilities on b-to-b, brand-identity and a new assignment, respectively.

Although Omnicom overconfidence may have played a part in the decision, IPG’s pitch team simply outperformed its rival in presentations in Charlotte, N.C., three weeks ago and New York last week, sources said.

Key presenter Bruce Nelson, IPG evp, chief marketing officer, “hit it out of the park,” said one source. The winning team also included Bozell president Tom Bernardin, IPG vice chairman David Bell and others.

IPG harnessed the resources of two dozen agencies in answer to the client’s request for a coordinated, multidisciplinary approach from the holding companies, sources said. Those shops included DraftWorldwide, Siboney USA, Jack Morton Worldwide, Weber Shandwick, Global Hue and R/GA.

Bozell will retain general advertising duties, while other below-the-line or nontraditional duties may be distributed among its siblings that participated in the pitch.

Executives from IPG, Bozell, Omnicom and BofA did not return calls. The IPG crew, no stranger to adversity after months of financial battering, wasted no time toasting the much-needed victory. About 70 people attended a three-hour party thrown by the client last Friday at an uptown Manhattan restaurant, sources said. Among the revelers were executives from the IPG units that made up the pitch team, plus BofA chief marketing officer Catherine Bessant, brand and ad promotions executive Dan Rozelli and advertising executive Grant O’Neal.

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