Draft launches multicultural shop to service BofA

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Interpublic Group of Cos.' Draft Worldwide will step into the multicultural arena to handle the African-American account of Bank of America.

Draft is developing a multicultural offering led by Larry Harris, formerly senior VP-executive producer and digital creative honcho at FCBi Digital, the interactive-advertising arm of Draft sibling Foote Cone & Belding.

Plans for the new cross-cultural group are still being finalized, but Mr. Harris joined Draft in April as exec VP-director of integrated and cross-cultural communications. Additional staff is expected to join later this month. The group will initially work only with Bank of America, but will expand to handle other clients once the bank's account is up and running. Billings on the account have been estimated at $30 million. Mr. Harris was traveling and could not be reached.

"The decision to choose Draft is part of an integrated whole," said Javier Palomarez, senior VP-marketing and multicultural-initiatives executive at Bank of America, adding the company wants to really look at this community "and not just throw advertising dollars at it."

nontraditional

The bank's efforts to reach African-American consumers go far beyond traditional advertising, and depend heavily on direct marketing, in-branch displays and other nontraditional media. Mr. Palomarez noted Bank of America has a wide range of partnerships with organizations such as the NAACP and the National Association of Realtors and sponsors the Essence Music Festival. Just last week, the bank struck a deal to sponsor Major League Baseball.

Bank of America's previous African-American agency, independent Carol H. Williams Advertising, Oakland, Calif., resigned in February, after a yearlong relationship. (AA, Feb. 9)

At the time of the split , bank executives said they would look within Interpublic for a replacement. However, the seemingly obvious choice, GlobalHue, Southfield, Mich., a multicultural shop in which Interpublic has a minority stake, had a conflict with Union Bank of California.

"This new group at Draft is part of our ongoing effort to develop innovative ways to involve diverse professionals of the highest caliber from all disciplines in crafting solutions for the client," an Interpublic spokesman said in a statement.

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