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Marketer Had Contacted Agencies Regarding Project Work

By Published on .

CHICAGO (AdAge.com) -- E-Trade Financial and Omnicom Group's Martin/Williams are ending their relationship after less than a year, citing a "change in direction."

$90 million ad budget
The parting comes just weeks after E-Trade,

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which is projected to spend as much as $90 million on marketing this year, sought ideas from outside agencies for project work on the account. E-Trade initiated the call shortly after Nick Utton joined the company in June 2004 as its chief marketing officer.

Mr. Utton, who previously worked with MasterCard and J.P. Morgan Chase, has worked with Interpublic Group of Cos. agencies in the past and is expected to look there.

Foote Cone & Belding Worldwide, New York, and Martin Agency, Richmond, Va., handled J.P. Morgan Chase. McCann Erickson, New York, handled MasterCard. But McCann recently won the account of E-Trade rival Brown Co., owned by J.P. Morgan Chase.

Mr. Utton replaced Pam Kramer, who was part of the committee that tapped Martin/Williams in 2003. E-Trade previously was with Omnicom's Goodby, Silverstein & Partners, San Francisco.

Blow for Martin/Williams
It's a big blow for Martin/Williams, which earlier this year lost the Staples account after two years.

Steve Collins, president-CEO of Martin/Williams, said the loss will force layoffs. He estimated the number at the low 30s, or 12% of the work force.

"This kind of stuff happens when a new marketing person comes on board," Mr. Collins said. "That kind of comes with the territory."

An E-Trade spokeswoman didn't return calls for comment.

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