Nationwide Preps Parallel Pitches

NEW YORK Nationwide Insurance will conduct parallel reviews for its creative and media accounts, with the goal of selecting an agency for each by mid-March, according to the consultancy managing the process.

Based on submissions from select shops, Nationwide executives the week of Jan. 19 will draw up shorter lists of creative and media contenders that they would meet with before selecting two or three finalists for each account, said Mike Bogda, a principal at ABA Consulting in Addison, Texas. The credentials meetings will take place at Nationwide’s headquarters in Columbus, Ohio.

The creative and media incumbents — Interpublic Group’s TM Advertising in Dallas and IPG’s Universal McCann in New York — have been invited to participate, according to Bogda.

Direct marketing duties, at WPP Group’s Wunderman in New York, are not in play.

Last year, Nationwide spent nearly $185 million in major measured media, according to TNS Media Intelligence. Spending through the first nine months of 2008 exceeded $180 million.

(Related: “Nationwide Insurance Goes Into Play.”)

In a statement, a client representative said Monday that Nationwide executives “periodically . . . open the door for other agencies to present fresh perspectives,” adding, “We will work with [ABA] to determine which agencies may be qualified for our review process.”

Among the key decision-makers will be evp, CMO James Lyski and Steven Schreibman, vp, advertising and brand management. Schreibman joined Nationwide in December 2003 from Limited Brands, where he was director of marketing for the company’s Victoria’s Secret Stores division. Lyski came aboard in October 2006 from Cigna HealthCare, where he was svp for strategy, product and marketing.

A request for proposals sent to creative shops asks about experience in the financial services category and working with outside agencies, said a source. That document is due back on Jan. 12.

Contacted media shops, meanwhile, had to signal their intention to participate last week.

Since 2004, Nationwide has used the tag “Life comes at you fast” in a series of TV spots featuring quasi-celebrities such as Fabio, Kevin Federline and MC Hammer. A recent spot, which broke in August, featured former American Idol contestant Sanjaya Malakar.

Each execution shows how fleeting fame and fortune are with, for example, Federline rapping in a video one moment and making fries in a fast-food restaurant the next. The ads urge consumers to prepare financially so they won’t be bereft if fate strikes.

ABA has a longstanding relationship with Nationwide, having managed the 1998 review that resulted in the hiring of TM. The consultancy also conducted a review of African-American-directed ad duties earlier this year that Carole H. Williams Advertising in Chicago won, besting Omnicom Group’s Footsteps in New York, according to Bogda. That account had been handled by independent Matlock Advertising and Public Relations in Atlanta.
This story updates an earlier item with additional details from the consultancy managing the process.