TWO HISPANIC AGENCIES PREPARE FOR BANK OF AMERICA AD WORK

Clarification Requested on Roles of Cultura and Lopez Negrete

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NEW YORK (AdAge.com) -- Two Hispanic agencies are preparing to handle work on the Bank of America advertising account that was won by Omnicom Group earlier this week.
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Spokesmen at Dallas-based Cultura, which is owned 49% by Omnicom, and Houston-based independent shop Lopez Negrete, said they were looking forward to the challenge. Cultura was one of eight Omnicom agencies that took part in the pitch. Lopez Negrete has been doing work for Bank of America for 12 years.

Omnicom win
On Aug. 31, the financial giant announced that its $600 million ad account had been awarded to Omnicom after a quick review that marked the end of the bank's relationship with Interpublic Group of Cos.

“The solution presented to Bank of America was an integrated, all-encompassing solution, and we were baked into all of it,” said Juan Faura, president-CEO of 4-year-old Cultura. “Multicultural was a pretty significant piece of the review, not just a side thing. They’ve moved from thinking of multicultural as a standalone, independent initiative to [being] more of an integrated piece of everything they do.”

Mr. Faura said Cultura started a Chicago-based African-American agency called Intersect in March, run by Phil Gant. Mr. Gant, a former executive creative director at Omnicom's BBDO in Chicago, moved to BBDO in Detroit to work on the agency’s Chrysler business, but wanted to return to his Chicago home, Mr. Faura said. For the Asian-American portion of the account, Mr. Faura said he would use L3 or Admerasia, Asian-American agencies he has shared multicultural accounts with before.

Clarification requested
Mr. Faura said he asked Bank of America for clarification of his agency’s role after the Omnicom win was announced, so he could know whether to stop pursuing leads on other possible financial services accounts.

“I got confirmation,” he said. He added that Bank of America has already started referring calls from media and other vendors to his agency.

Meanwhile, a Bank of America spokeswoman said the company will continue to work with Lopez Negrete.

“We were told by the client to stay the course, that they were not putting us on any kind of notice, ” said Alex Lopez Negrete, the agency’s president-CEO.

2006 planning
“We have a contract through the end of the year and we are already immersed in 2006 planning," he said. "They said the pitch was not multicultural ... and that no ‘switch’ on Hispanic was mentioned.”

After Bank of America moved to Interpublic in 2003 Lopez Negrete remained the sole Hispanic agency of record.

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Matt Creamer contributed to this report.

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