Schwab Looks South

Two Southeast agencies are among the semifinalists that have emerged for a pair of national advertising assignments from Charles Schwab & Co., which is looking for shops to handle creative chores on some $75 million in mutual funds business.
The San Francisco-based brokerage is seeking an agency to help it advertise funds in print media and a shop to craft campaigns designed to enhance the brand with women.
Being considered concurrently for both tasks are Crispin Porter & Bogusky, Miami, and The Martin Agency, Richmond, Va., as well as Carmichael Lynch, Minneapolis, and TBWA/Chiat/Day, Playa del Rey, Calif., according to sources.
Schwab’s lead agency, BBDO in New York, which was not expected to participate [Adweek, Feb. 14], may also be evaluated for one or both assignments. Its inclusion had not been finalized by press time on Friday, sources said. The shop has insisted it is not losing any business in light of the reviews, but sources have said at least some money for these new initiatives is being diverted from BBDO.
Skip Pile of Pile and Co. in Boston, which is conducting the review, declined to confirm the contenders.
Agencies will meet with Schwab officials over the next two weeks, and finalists are expected to emerge in March. Decisions will be made in March or April.
While the client would like to use a separate agency for each assignment, it may ultimately choose to award both tasks to a single shop, sources said.
Total spending for the mutual funds print business will be about $50 million; the client will put $25 million behind its women’s campaign, sources said. All told, Schwab spent $150 million through October 1999, per Competitive Media Reporting.
Schwab’s actions are in answer to rivals like E*Trade and Fidelity Investments, which have stepped up ad spending of late.