TIAA-CREF Reviews Its Advertising Business

Search comes as company ramps up brand efforts

Financial planning player TIAA-CREF is talking to agencies about its creative and media business.

The company has issued a request for proposals to more than a dozen agencies that’s due back this week, according to sources. Based on submissions, TIAA-CREF marketing leaders are expected to narrow the field to about six shops that they will visit.

After a relatively quiet past three years, the company plans to ramp up its advertising considerably, with one source estimating that annual media spending may reach $50 million.

In contrast, TIAA-CREF spent only about $6 million in 2010 and less than $1 million in both 2011 and the first nine months of 2012, according to Nielsen. Before 2010, annual spending approached $20 million.

Currently, TIAA-CREF employs Digitas for creative efforts and TargetCast for media planning and buying; both are expected to participate in the review. Hasan + Co. in Raleigh, N.C. is managing the process.

The consultancy referred calls to the New York-based TIAA-CREF, which had no comment.

Sources identified key decision-makers in the search as chief marketing officer Connie Weaver, vp of brand and advertising Morgan Gold and John Mittnacht, vp of advertising.

Weaver joined the company nearly three years ago. Before that, she was svp of marketing and communications at the Hartford Financial Services Group. Earlier in her career, Weaver held marketing roles at BearingPoint and AT&T.

After visiting agencies, TIAA-CREF will select a handful of finalists to pitch the business. The company hopes to complete its search in March.

TIAA-CREF’s competitors include Merrill Lynch, Fidelity and Vanguard.