$100 MILLION WASHINGTON MUTUAL AD ACCOUNT IN REVIEW

Interpublic's Sedgwick Rd. Was Incumbent

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SAN FRANCISCO (AdAge.com) -- Washington Mutual, whose retail approach has revolutionized the banking business and propelled it to first place in the nation's savings and loan industry, has placed its advertising account in review.
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The creative and media work is valued at $100 million to $125 million.

IPG agencies
The account has long been held by Sedgwick Rd., an agency owned by the Interpublic Group of Cos. and once the Seattle office of McCann Erickson Worldwide. Sedgwick will not participate in the review, according to a bank spokeswoman. However, she said McCann-Erickson had expressed an interest in defending the account for Interpublic.

The Washington Mutual review comes just a week after Interpublic lost the $600 million Bank of America account to Omnicom Group.

Executives at Sedgwick Rd. did not return calls.

'Right time to re-evaluate'
A Washington Mutual statement said: "Washington Mutual has grown to become one of the largest financial services companies in the nation, and we feel it is the right time to re-evaluate our advertising account and to put it up for review."

Select Resources International, Santa Monica, Calif., is handling the review. Final presentations are expected to be conducted in the fourth quarter.

Under former Chief Marketing Officer Brad Davis, Washington Mutual built a brand under the "More human interest" tagline. It improved customer service and changed banking offices to look more like a retail space. In recent months, however, the company has begun to lay off more than 13,000 employees and close 100 mortgage offices. The financial giant is also in the throes of its acquisition of Providian Financial Corp. Analysts have pointed to the drop in mortgage lending as well as a number of management missteps as being behind the bank's woes.

Ads by 'Best in Show' director
Its ad campaign from Sedgwick Rd. featured humorous spots directed by Christopher Guest, whose films included the mocumentary Best in Show and A Mighty Wind. Those spots, where customers waiting in line at a bank were charged for talking to a clerk or hauled out of a party for private customers, have continued to run for more than three years.

Mr. Davis earlier this year left Washington Mutual and was replaced by CMO Genevieve Smith.

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