Updated: PNC Reviews Creative, Media

NEW YORK PNC Bank has confirmed launching a review of creative and media duties on its ad account, saying that the move stems partly from PNC’s recent acquisition of National City bank.

In December, PNC acquired National City for $5.58 billion, creating the nation’s fifth-largest bank by deposits. Estimated billings on the combined account are $100 million.

“From a timing perspective, it would make sense to do a review when these two organizations” came together, said a bank representative. Also, as the fifth-largest bank, it’s logical that PNC would “take a look at what’s out there,” the rep said.

The PNC and National City incumbents — independent Doner in Southfield, Mich., and Interpublic Group’s Campbell Mithun in Minneapolis, respectively — have been invited to defend, the rep confirmed. Each shop handles both creative and media duties on its respective brand.

The client is expected to complete the process by early July. It was not immediately clear how many agencies received the RFP, but some will return the document this week and others next week, depending on when they received it, said sources.

The Bedford Group in Atlanta is said to be managing the search. Bedford did not return calls.

Doner has worked on PNC since 2001 and Campbell Mithun on National City since 2007.

Pittsburgh-based PNC serves about 6 million individuals and small businesses in 13 states and the District of Columbia, according to PNC.com. The bank operates some 2,600 branches and 6,000 ATM machines. Beyond retail banking, PNC also offers asset management, corporate and institutional banking and global investment services.

PNC spent nearly $70 million in major measured media last year, compared to more than $40 million for National City, according to Nielsen Monitor-Plus. (The 2007 totals for PNC and National City, respectively, were $56 million and $31 million, per Nielsen.)

Among the key decision makers in the review are chief marketing officer Karen Larrimer, a PNC veteran who assumed that role last summer, and director of corporate marketing Mark Hendrix, who joined the bank about three years ago, according to the client rep.

Bedford managed last year’s review of SunTrust’s creative and media duties, which resulted in the hire of Wenham, Mass.-based Mullen, a unit of IPG. Mullen succeeded the New York offices of WPP Group units Young & Rubicam and Maxus.

That review was triggered in part by Y&R’s pursuit of Wachovia Corp.’s $145 million account. Y&R was the runner-up in the Wachovia pitch, which WPP’s Ogilvy & Mather here won, only to see the brand dissolve after Wells Fargo acquired Wachovia. (National City branches are expected to be rebranded as PNC units over time.)

This story updates an earlier item with client confirmation and additional details.

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