USAA Splits With Deutsch, Launches Review

Financial-Services Firm's Spending Thought to Exceed $50 Million

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NEW YORK ( -- USAA, a financial-services firm that markets to military personnel and their families, is parting ways with its ad agency of record, Deutsch, New York, a year after handing the shop its account, and is throwing the business back into review.

Deutsch picked up the account last October from Bernstein Rein, which had handled the business since 2005.

Mutual decision
"USAA has elected to end its relationship with advertising agency Deutsch. ... We are actively pursuing a new agency of record," a spokesman said. "USAA constantly seeks to enhance its marketing operations to ensure that it is doing the right thing for our member-owned association. We thank Deutsch and its team of professionals for their service to USAA."

An spokeswoman for the Interpublic Group of Cos.' agency confirmed the split, calling it a mutual parting of ways. "We will continue to work with USAA until the end of first quarter 2009 to ensure a smooth transition," she said. "With the tenor of the financial and insurance marketplace we wish USAA success moving forward."

The financial-services sector in recent days has witnessed much turmoil, prompting a slew or mergers and acquisitions that in some cases have caused ad agency relationships to unravel.

Top execs replaced
USAA's split with Deutsch follows a series of management changes at the San Antonio-based marketer. Late last year, CEO Bob Davis was replaced with retired U.S. Army Major General Joe Robles Jr., while Michael Grasso, senior VP-marketing, exited and Roger Chacko replaced Dawn Johnson as CMO early this year.

According to TNS Media Intelligence, USAA, which has more than 6 million members, spent $14 million on domestic measured media in 2007, but when non-measured media is factored in, actual spending has been upward of $50 million annually, according to executives familiar with the matter.