American Express is reaching out to creative shops for ideas on its 'Open' business, which provides credit cards and other services for small businesses, according to executives familiar with the matter.
The account has been with MDC Partners' CP&B since 2007. Before that , it was handled by WPP Group's Ogilvy, New York, which is AmEx's agency of record.
Boston-based search consultancy Pile & Co. is overseeing the review, the execs said, and it's understood that CP&B is defending. The agency declined to comment.
An AmEx spokesman would say only that "from time to time, American Express evaluates its agency assignments to ensure we have the best partners for our marketing needs, and to get new ideas and fresh perspectives."
According to the Ad Age DataCenter, American Express Co. is the fifth-largest national advertiser, with more than $2.2 billion in domestic spending. Open spending was about $40 million in U.S. measured media in 2011, vs. between $50 million and $100 million in previous years, according to Kantar.
Areas of discussion with agencies could include turning Open Forum into a place for doing business in addition to sharing ideas.
CP&B works on other marketing projects for AmEx, including Small Business Saturday , an event aimed at boosting Main Street merchants. The agency, along with Publicis Groupe 's Digitas, launched the initiative in 2010. Last year was the second annual Small Business Saturday , and AmEx estimated that it led to 103 million U.S. consumers' shopping at independent businesses.
This week, the campaign received "The World's Best Idea" award at the New York Festivals.