E-Trade Shifts Media Buying and Planning to WPP

Latest in a String of Changes Following Arrival of CMO Liza Landsman

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Kevin Spacey in the new baby-less E-Trade campaign
Kevin Spacey in the new baby-less E-Trade campaign

E-Trade shifted its creative business from longtime agency Grey to WPP's Ogilvy last summer. Now its media account is moving to WPP as well.

"Ogilvy will assume media agency of record responsibilities for E-Trade, in addition to their work as creative agency of record -- a shift to seamlessly integrate our messaging with how it is delivered," said Rich Muhlstock, senior VP-branding and acquisition, in a statement. "We are excited for the next phase of the E-Trade marketing story, and believe our new agency structure sets us up to connect with customers and prospects in an even more integrated and nimble way."

(UPDATE: An E-Trade spokesman said later that while Ogilvy is overseeing the larger E-Trade account, the buying assignment will be handled by a WPP team, with talent from OgilvyOne and GroupM.)

Media planning and buying for the New York-based financial investment company had been handled by Spark, which is part of Publicis Groupe's Starcom MediaVest Group.

"Spark Communications, our media agency for the past eight years, has been instrumental in E-Trade achieving the phenomenal awareness we enjoy today," Mr. Muhlstock said. "They have been a cornerstone of our success and we value their contributions."

Agencies did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

E-Trade CMO Liza Landsman said after the creative shift last year that she was looking at shaking up E-Trade's media mix as well, with the goal of incorporating "areas that we haven't explored as much in the recent past, whether that's radio or out of home or sponsorships."

"We're looking at what are the best channels to engage with our existing customers," she said. The brand would continue to work with Spark, she said then, but the writing was on the wall.

At the time, Ms. Landsman had only been at the company for a few months. She had worked with Ogilvy during her time as global managing director of digital at Blackrock, and earlier in her career she spent time at Citi and IBM, another longtime Ogilvy client.

Shortly after Ms. Landsman came on board, the brand also put to rest the famous talking baby, replacing it with a "Type E" campaign starring Kevin Spacey. The ads feature the actor as a "Talent Scout," tapping the shoulders of Type E customers, letting them know that they are, in fact, Type E, and they should work with E-Trade.

Among its plethora of changes, E-Trade also ended its six-year-long streak of advertising in the Super Bowl, instead opting to "sharpen its focus on key prospects and existing customers," and reallocate media dollars more strategically, as Mr. Muhlstock told Ad Age at the time.

For Starcom MediaVest Group, the timing couldn't be worse. MediaVest is mourning the recent loss of Microsoft and Starcom is currently defending Samsung -- both are among SMG's largest clients. Chatter around parent Publicis is also grim as plans to merge with rival Omnicom hit snags.

E-Trade spent $109 million on domestic measured media in 2013, according to Kantar Media.

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