Mullen/LHC to Tackle Blended Wachovia Effort

Mullen/LHC’s addition of the consolidated Wachovia account provides the shop with a challenge it appears qualified to meet: how to blend the advertising of two former rivals—Wachovia Bank and First Union—into a seamless entity.

Mullen/LHC, the Winston-Salem, N.C., affiliate of Inter public Group’s Mullen in Wenham, Mass., bested Publicis & Hal Riney, San Francisco, in a shootout between the two roster shops. The agencies had been incumbents on the Charlotte, N.C.-based accounts of Wachovia Bank and First Union before the merger last year of the two financial institutions. The budget is estimated at $60-75 million.

Since the year began, Mullen has enjoyed a startling reversal of fortune, with its headquarters in Wenham picking up work from the U.S. Department of Defense’s JRAP program and sunglasses company Foster Grant, while Mul len/LHC added retail responsi bilities for Nextel Com m unications. Last year, the Winston-Salem of fice was battered by a series of losses and management changes, and for a time seemed destined to close.

The win underscores the resurgence of the overall Mullen organization, which be gan to rebound with the arrival of president and chief operating officer John Fitzgerald and executive creative director Denzil Strickland.

“It’s been an awesome beginning of the year,” said Fitzgerald. “This is a management-turnaround story of myself and Denzil doing a reorganization.” That reorganization in cluded “tearing down the department walls,” said Fitzgerald, and regrouping staffers in “brand centric” teams. “Our abi lity to function in a cross-discipline way was instrumental to winning this business,” he said.

The five-member Wachovia pitch team, which Fitzgerald said worked seven days a week to deliver three dif ferent campaigns, fo cused around the combined efforts of Strickland, LHC vet eran group creative director Frank Campion, media director Ray Trosan, strategic planner Jennifer Ganshirt and group account director Brad Zabel.

Wachovia is the fourth-largest financial institution in the U.S.