Mullen, 3 N.Y. Shops Remain In Liberty Mutual Contest

Two out of the three New England agencies pitching Liberty Mutual’s estimated $27 million account were cut last week.
Advancing to the next round were Mullen in Wenham, Mass., and N.W. Ayer & Partners, Lowe & Partners/SMS and Kirshenbaum Bond & Partners, all in New York.
A client official last week confirmed the short list and said the review is on track to conclude in April.
Eliminated from contention were Ingalls Advertising and Holland Mark Martin Edmund, both in Boston, as well as Messner Vetere Berger McNamee Schmetterer/Euro RSCG, Gotham and D’Arcy Masius Benton & Bowles, all in New York.
Ingalls was an early favorite because its vice president of human resources, Rebecca Sullivan, is married to Steve Sullivan, vice president of corporate communications at Boston-based Liberty Mutual who is spearheading the search.
Despite that personal connection, industry sources said Ingalls was cut because it was unwilling to resign the work its direct response unit, Ingalls Group 121, currently does for John Hancock Financial Services, a direct competitor of Liberty Mutual.
Review consultant Morgan, Anderson & Co. and Liberty Mutual appear to be looking closely at potential conflicts of interest. Earlier in the pitch, Hill, Holliday/Altschiller, the New York branch of Hill, Holliday, Connors, Cosmopulos, was forced to withdraw from the contest because the Boston office is Hancock’s lead agency [Adweek, Feb. 23].
Officials at Hill, Holliday said the question of conflict with Hancock in particular and other financial services accounts such as BankBoston and Fidelity Investments was insurmountable to Sullivan.
New York-based Morgan, Anderson was retained by Liberty Mutual in January to conduct the agency search after the financial services company fired 11-year incumbent Wells BDDP in New York.