WESTERN UNION SPLITS WITH J. WALTER THOMPSON

Begins Hunt for New Advertising Agency

By Published on .

NEW YORK (AdAge.com) -- Western Union, the worldwide provider of money transfers, has split with J. Walter Thompson, Chicago, and put its consumer advertising account into review, according to a spokeswoman for the company.

Western Union, owned by First Data Corp., began working with WPP Group's J. Walter Thompson in the spring of 2002. The spokeswoman wouldn't comment on reasons for the parting, except to say that the company's needs have changed.

'Normal course'
"This is the normal course of business. We'll ensure that our current branding intiative remains intact and unaffected," said Danielle Pereira, a spokeswoman at the Denver, Colo.-based company.

"We've cast a wide net to identify an agency," the spokeswoman said.

Western Union is expected to shift from a focus on TV and traditional media toward a more "360-degree" approach, according to an executive close to the company. It is also expected to expand its total marketing outlay.

$3.7 billion in revenue
For 2004, Western Union plans to spend about 7% to 8% of its payment services division's revenues on marketing and advertising initiatives. The division's revenues reached $3.7 billion in 2003. According to TNS Media Intelligence/CMR, Western Union spent $15.4 million in measured media in 2003.

Executives familiar with the matter say that media buying will continued to be handled by MindShare and that JWT subsidiary Connect@JWT will continue to handle direct-marketing efforts. Ms. Pereira didn't comment on Western Union's other agency relationships beyond the shift from JWT.

Consultancy Now Inc., Southport, Conn., is handling the review.

Western Union provides money transfers worldwide to consumers in more than 195 countries.

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