Schwab Taps Pile for Searches

Consulting Firm Helms Separate Reviews for New Assignments
BOSTON–Charles Schwab & Co. has hired consulting firm Pile and Co. to select contenders in two separate reviews. National creative chores on some $75 million in overall business may be in play, sources said.
Schwab is seeking an agency for a new assignment to advertise the company’s mutual funds in print media nationwide. Only creative chores are currently in play, but total spending may top $50 million, sources said.
The second task, also new for Schwab, is worth about $25 million and consists of devising strategies and creative executions to enhance the brand with women, sources said.
Pile and Co. chairman Skip Pile confirmed he is handling two searches for Schwab, one for mutual funds and another “for women,” but he referred other questions to client officials, who did not return calls by press time.
The client spent $150 million on ads through the first 10 months of 1999, per Competitive Media Reporting.
The new initiatives are being undertaken, sources said, to help Schwab stay competitive against rivals such as E*Trade and Fidelity Investments, which have also spent heavily on ads of late.
BBDO, New York, lead agency for Schwab, likely will not participate in the two reviews, sources said. BBDO recently picked up a new assignment from the client: creating multipage magazine inserts that promote a portfolio consolidation product. Even so, sources close to Schwab insist some of the money for these new initiatives is being diverted from BBDO.
Pile is in the early stages of identifying agencies to pitch. Separate lists are expected within the next two weeks. Decisions will likely be made by March or April.
Pile will likely invite unconflicted midsized and larger agencies with strong financial services backgrounds, sources said.
Location is not a strict consideration, but West Coast shops–particularly those near the client’s San Francisco base–will be favored, sources said. K