Experian, the company that markets various credit-analysis products, has consolidated its buying and planning business with Omnicom's OMD after a review.
Indie shop Ocean Media, based in Los Angeles, was the incumbent on the buying business for brands such as freecreditscore.com, but it declined to participate in the pitch process. Ocean Media CEO Mike Robertson said that the agency did not pursue the business due to different philosophies but emphasized that there were "no hard feelings on either side."
The Martin Agency, which has handled creative work for the consumer credit brands, had also supported media planning. The move will have no impact on the agency's creative business. Martin was involved in the pitch, as well as independent shop Horizon, Publicis Groupe's Starcom and WPP's MEC, according to people familiar with the matter.
An Experian spokesman confirmed that it has completed its RFP process but declined to comment in more detail. Agencies either declined to comment or could not be immediately reached.
The company is widely known for its freecreditreport.com campaign, which, when introduced about five years ago, was set to the tune of a band led by a young guy whose lousy credit had forced him into menial work. The spots were catchy and accessible and translated well to the more youth-targeted product freecreditscore.com.
In 2012, the company devoted about $65 million to U.S. measured media marketing its freecreditscore.com consumer brand, while it only spent $359,000 on freecreditreport.com, according to Kantar Media. Going forward, the budget for the media buying and planning account will be between $60 and $80 million, according to industry executives.
In the past, the freecreditreport.com product had spent as much as $60 million a year on measured media in the U.S. But when The Federal Trade Commission established a mandate requiring that free-credit-report companies refer to the government's FTC.gov site as the only place to find a free authorized credit report, Experian shifted its promotional focus to its freecreditscore.com product.
The measured media dollars it spent on its consumer credit products in 2012 are only fraction of the $384.6 million the company spent on total measured media in the U.S. It devoted the majority - $222.4 million - to its LowerMyBills.com brand, and spent about $70 million on ClassesUSA.com, according to Kantar Media.
But as Experian works through the terms of a deal to sell the ClassesUSA, LowerMyBills and PriceGrabber brands - negotiations with Hyderabad, India-based company Ybrant Digital hit a snag late last year due to Ybrant's inability to meet a payment deadline - the company and its new agency will likely devote a bulk of the media resources to the consumer credit brands.