Lending Tree Shifts Creative From Mullen to Euro

$226 Million Spent in Measured Media, the Bulk of It Online

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NEW YORK (AdAge.com) -- Embattled online lending exchange Lending Tree is shifting creative duties on its ad account to Havas' Euro RSCG Worldwide, New York, from Interpublic Group of Cos.' Mullen, the winning agency said.

The move follows a quiet two-way pitch between Euro and incumbent Mullen, and comes as Charlotte, N.C.-based Lending Tree's parent, IAC/InterActiveCorp, attempts to spin off into five separate publicly traded companies, a move that's sparked a heated legal battle.

A spokesman for the incumbent, Mullen, declined to comment.

$226 million in measured media
According to TNS Media Intelligence, Lending Tree funnels the bulk of its U.S. measured media spending online and is one of the largest internet advertisers. It spent $226 million in domestic measured media on LendingTree.com between January and September 2007, according to TNS.

As part of its fourth-quarter earnings report yesterday, IAC posted a loss of $370 million, largely stemming from charges at the Lending Tree unit linked to subprime-mortgage crisis.

Euro, which recently integrated the New York agency with its digital and direct marketing arm, Euro RSCG 4D, will work with Lending Tree on creative development, digital marketing and planning, and product innovation.

Importance of digital
"Digital is fully embedded into every conversation, which underscores their commitment to their new model and provides them with a competitive point of difference that's especially relevant for a business like ours," Doug Lebda, Lending Tree founder and IAC president, said in a statement. "LendingTree is at a major inflection point and requires an agency partner that thrives on innovation and speed to market. We believe Euro can deliver that."

Mullen will still remain an agency partner, though. Its media arm, MediaHub, will continue to handle media-planning and -buying duties for the marketer, and may also be tapped for select creative and digital projects going forward, LendingTree said.

"We've had a terrific partnership with Mullen over the past nine years and look forward to continuing to leverage their capabilities in the future," Bob Harris, president-chief operating officer, Lending Tree, said in a statement.