Salomon Smith Barney Review Taking Shape

NEW YORK At least three contenders have emerged in the review of Salomon Smith Barney’s advertising account, sources said.

The brokerage, a division of Citigroup, began talking to agencies last month about handling the creative and media portions of its U.S. advertising account, sources said. A client representative confirmed that a review was underway, but declined further comment.

New York shops Kirshenbaum Bond & Partners, and Omnicom siblings BBDO and Merkley Newman Harty & Partners, which is on Citigroup’s roster, are scheduled to meet with the client this month for a credentials check, sources said. It is expected that their respective media partners will pitch for media duties. It could not immediately be determined how many shops will meet with the client.

Interpublic Group’s McCann-Erickson in New York, the creative incumbent since 1994, has opted not to defend, a source said. Its media partner, incumbent Universal McCann is also not participating.

Media spending from the New York client surged from $2 million in 1994 to $35 million in 1998. Spending peaked in 2000 with $65 million, per CMR. Salomon Smith Barney spent $20 million in 2001, and from January to November of 2002, the company spent less than $5 million.

Publicis Groupe’s Fallon in Minneapolis is also on Citigroup’s roster, handling the consumer advertising account, but sources said Fallon was not participating in the Salomon Smith Barney review.

Sources said client svp Brett Sanford and Diane Morgan, a vp in the brokerage business, are managing the process. No consultant is involved.

Executives at the agencies either declined comment or could not be reached.