Charles Schwab Puts $100 Million Media Account in Play

Incumbent PHD Will 'Definitely' Defend; Universal McCann, Carat Also Said to Be Pitching

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NEW YORK (AdAge.com) -- A number of media agencies are going to get the chance to "Talk to Chuck" about his $100 million media-planning and -buying account in the next few weeks. Charles Schwab, one of the only financial-services companies not to take any federal bailout money, has put its traditional and digital media business up for review.

Mike Naughton, VP-media in central marketing at Charles Schwab, confirmed the review and said the incumbent, Omnicom Group's PHD, was invited to pitch and is "definitely" participating. Charles Schwab consolidated its buying and planning business under PHD in 2005.

PHD confirmed it was meeting with Charles Schwab in New York next week for a "chemistry check," as the market will meet the agency's new leadership team. Scott Hagedorn was named CEO of PHD USA, in December, replacing Matt Seiler, who left to become the global CEO of Interpublic Group of Cos.' Universal MacCann.

Universal McCann is also said to be taking part in the review, as is Aegis' Carat. Neither agency returned calls for comment. Mr. Naughton would not confirm who else was participating but said the company was "talking with" five agencies.

Charles Schwab launched its "Talk to Chuck" campaign back in 2005. Mr. Naughton said the company's most recent advertising, which still feature an animation process known as Rotoscoping, are a "little bit different than the typical 'Talk to Chuck' executions and are more relevant to what is taking place in today's economy" by focusing on issues such as disappearing 401ks.

Mr. Naughton said PHD has played a significant role over the years in the success of the "Talk to Chuck" campaign, which Havas' Euro RSCG, New York, created, but believes it's the responsibility of the company to review its agency resources on a regular basis.

"The other reason we're doing this has to do with what's going on with media today," Mr. Naughton said. "The fact is media is rapidly evolving and new technologies have created a lot of opportunities for marketers that honestly didn't exist before. Media defines how consumers live and this is a great opportunity to ensure we're aligning ourselves with the best thinking out there."

PHD, whose biggest client is the ever-embattled Chrysler, last month successfully defended the $100 million-plus media-planning and -buying business from Discovery Networks.

In addition to Euro RSCG, Charles Schwab works with Omnicom Group's Rapp for direct marketing out of the agency's Los Angeles office. The company's PR duties are handled by more than a handful of agencies including Edelman, Publicis Groupe's Kekst, CRT/tanaka, Makovsky and Co., SunStar and Intermarket communications.

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