Mullen Out of Wachovia Pitch

BOSTON Interpublic Group’s Mullen has been cut from Wachovia’s review of its ad account as the client this week narrowed its list of contenders.

The agency today issued this brief statement: “Mullen is proud of our 11-year relationship with Wachovia, during which time we have helped this client build their brand and business and grow from a mid-sized regional bank into one of the largest financial institutions in the U.S. We wish them well in this period of transition.”

In a separate statement, Wachovia said: “The agency served us well during a time of unprecedented growth as Wachovia grew from a regional into a national financial services player. During this time of significant change for our company, we feel a fresh perspective would best serve our businesses.”

Client and agency representatives would not elaborate on why Mullen did not advance in the competition.

The shop serves as the lead offline creative and media partner for the financial services company.

Interactive chores handled by Aegis Group’s Carat in Boston are also in play. Like Mullen, Carat was invited to defend and Wachovia said the agency has survived the cut but declined further comment.

A Mullen rep said the relationship would continue for some time, perhaps through year’s end, in the Winston-Salem, N.C., office, which handles the business. (That outpost parted with TJX Cos.’ Marshalls on Monday when the retailer’s account shifted to Omnicom Group’s GSD&M Idea City in Austin, Texas, following a review.)

Mullen is headquartered in Wenham, Mass. Wachovia has been one of its largest and highest-profile pieces of business, routinely spending more than $100 million annually in domestic measured media.

Officials at the Charlotte, N.C., client could not immediately be reached for comment. The cut would determine the initial field following the proposal-request process. Consultancy Select Resources International in Santa Monica, Calif., is guiding the search.

Management changes at Wachovia are partly driving the review. Art Smith, director of global brand management, who joined Wachovia in December from a unit of H&R Block, and CMO Ranjana Clark, a longtime bank executive who ascended to the top marketing slot a year ago, will be the key decision makers in the review. The length of time the incumbents have worked on the business was also a factor in the client’s decision to launch a review.