CHARLES SCHWAB CONSOLIDATES MEDIA WITH PHD USA

Omnicom Agency Will Also Handle Online Buying and Planning

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SAN FRANCISCO (AdAge.com) -- Discount broker Charles Schwab Corp., completing a shakeup of its marketing resources, has consolidated media buying on its $114 million account at Omnicom Group's PHD USA.
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PHD, which handled media planning for all of Schwab's offline advertising and managed print and out-of-home media buying since 1997, beat out two other shops in the review. They were independent RPA, Santa Monica, Calif., which handled broadcast media buying since 1990. The third contender was Havas' MPG. Schwab in November shifted creative from Omnicom's GSD&M, Austin, Texas, to Havas' Euro RSCG.

Online duties
PHD also picked up online planning and buying, handled since 1997 by KP Media, San Jose, Calif. PHD's media planning and buying duties include Schwab's brokerage subsidiary, Charles Schwab & Co., Charles Schwab Bank, Cybertrader and U.S. Trust subsidiaries.

Schwab spent $115 million in U.S. measured media in 2004, including $3.3 million for U.S. Trust, the account for which is at independent Wieden & Kennedy, according to TNS Media Intelligence. TV billings moving to PHD from RPA accounted for $47.2 million in spending. Most of the remaining money went into print.

Becky Saeger, Schwab's chief marketing officer, said in a statement that consolidation "will allow us to encourage innovation in the continually changing media landscape, streamline operations, and operate most flexibly and efficiently."

Cutting trading fees
News of the media account move came on the same day Schwab announced its third price cut this year and the sixth time it has cut fees and commissions since last May. Schwab, the pioneer in discount brokerage, has been in a locked battle with competitors such as Scottrade, which offers online trades for as low as $7.

Schwab this week settled a lawsuit involving the sensitive issues of fees. TD Waterhouse issued a public apology to settle the suit, which was the result of a 2003 TD Waterhouse ad campaign that called the San Francisco-based Schwab a "higher-priced" brokerage with inferior service.