AMEX DIRECT MARKETING SHOPS FACE 'HARD LOOK';PRESSURE MOUNTS ON O&M; WUNDERMAN MAY BENEFIT

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American Express Co. is "taking a hard look" at its estimated $100 million direct marketing account, which could spell trouble for Ogilvy & Mather Worldwide.

The decision comes one month after AmEx added Young & Rubicam, New York, to its general agency roster. Y&R's Wunderman Cato Johnson direct marketing shop has won several projects over recent years.

O&M remains AmEx's general-ad agency. O&M Direct is definitely on the hot seat, however; its direct marketing billings have shriveled in the past year.

The evaluation was initiated by John D. Hayes, exec VP-global advertising, who refused to call it a formal review.

THREE SHOPS UNDER SCRUTINY

Also under scrutiny along with O&M Direct is Bronner Slosberg Humphrey, Boston, and Wunderman, each of which handles a portion of AmEx's gigantic worldwide direct marketing efforts, encompassing mailings, direct response TV and point of purchase.

Bronner, which also handles the AT&T Universal credit card, will likely have to face conflict issues again, though AmEx previously said it doesn't necessarily consider the situation a conflict.

Laura Loro contributed to this story.

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