Chicago-based Harris Bank Launches Review

Omnicom Group's Element 79 Faces Another Possible Account Loss

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Harris Bank has put its creative account, long handled by Element 79, into review. The agency is expected to participate in the pitch process.

"It's part of the natural course of time to review our model," a spokesman for the bank told Ad Age . It's also probably a good time to reevaluate branding for Chicago-based bank since it fresh off a merger with Milwaukee-based bank Marshall & Ilsley Bank.

Harris Bank, which is part of BMO Financial Group, is being merged into M&I and at the end of a transitional period will be known only as BMO Harris Bank. Going forward the combined entity is likely to spend upwards of $20 million on advertising; Harris in 2010 spent about $15 million on U.S. measured media according to Kantar, while M&I spent about $7 million.

Representatives for Element 79 declined to comment, but the Harris Bank spokesman noted the agency was invited to participate and accepted.

Though Element 79 will defend the account, the loss of Harris Bank--which it has handled since 2005 and represents one of its biggest clients--would deliver a blow to the shop should the account go elsewhere.

Element 79 was formed in 2001 to house much of Omnicom's PepsiCo business. But in 2008, the vast majority of its Pespi beverage work, including Tropicana and Gatorade, were shifted to other Omnicom shops. It also lost PepsiCo's Quaker that year http://adage.com/article/agency-news/element-79-loses-piece-pepsico-business/130927/, leaving many to question the agency's fate. At the time, the agency dismissed any rumors that it would shutter or fold into sibling DDB http://adage.com/article/agency-news/recent-account-losses-leave-element-79-thirsting-clients/126537/.

Element has since chugged along, picking up pieces of business like Bear Creek restaurants http://adage.com/article/adages/bears-cook-pasta-element-79-campaign/229251/ and La Quinta Inn. Element's other accounts include Amway, Super Cuts, and Alberto Culver's Mr. . Dash and Static Guard, among others.

While those have helped keep the shop afloat they aren't enough to restore the agency to its former size, and there's been instability on other fronts too. Earlier this year, it lost telecom account Cricket, as well as ConAgra's Reddi-Wip. In early 2010, Ogilvy & Mather, Chicago, picked up marketing duties for American Family insurance, which had been at Element 79.

Element's former top creative exec, Dennis Ryan, who had been at the agency since 2002, moved over to Minneapolis-based Olson in February http://adage.com/article/agency-news/element-79-exec-dennis-ryan-heads-olson/149038/. Element quietly replaced Mr. Ryan with an internal hire, moving Canice Neary to helm creative.

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