Schwab shifts media planning to BBDO

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Charles Schwab & Co. awarded media planning responsibilities for its $250 million account to its chief roster agency, BBDO Worldwide, New York.

The BBDO win includes a $70 million print assignment and about $180 million in broadcast planning work. Media planning for broadcast was previously handled by the Media Edge and Schwab's internal media department, which also handled print. Media Edge retains local broadcast buying, and Rubin Postaer & Associates, Los Angeles, continues to handle Schwab's national broadcast media buying.


Schwab was satisfied with media planning by Media Edge, but decided to consolidate at BBDO, which is an Omnicom Group company, to have a better integration of its efforts, said Len Short, exec VP-advertising and brand management.

"You can build a megabrand one of two ways: You can buy broadly in prime time . . . [but] the more appropriate message for us is to build properties," Mr. Short said, adding that Schwab has had some success in creating "ownership positions" in certain events and wants to expand those activities. Schwab participates in Professional Golfers' Association tournaments, where its efforts combine sponsorships, media buys and creative tailored for the audience.

The BBDO assignment covers media planning for Schwab's "Smarter investors" branding campaign and products including Portfolio Consultation and Active Trader, which is an upcoming service for professional investors.


Except for a mutual funds assignment, currently in review, BBDO handles creative work for the rest of Schwab's account. Another Schwab assignment in review is a yet-unveiled service that will cater to women investors. BBDO is not competing in either of these reviews. BBDO's in-house media unit is headed by Bruno Crea, the New York office's exec VP-media planning.

The move flies in the face of a recent trend of some deep-pocket advertisers consolidating their media buying and planning business at stand-alone media agencies, created by holding companies combining the media departments of their individual ad shops. Omnicom's unbundled media shop, Optimum Media Direction, will remain primarily a buying company, leaving planning to individual agencies, such as BBDO. That is unlike WPP Group's MindShare and Interpublic Group of Cos.' Initiative Media positioning, which incorporate buying and planning services under one roof.

Bill Katz, president and co-CEO of BBDO, New York, said the Schwab move reflects "how strategically key [the department is] and account-specific."


"I wouldn't be surprised if buying becomes part of the assignment as well," predicted Mr. Katz. "We are now becoming the total agency for Schwab. Their perspective is that they want a holistic view on not just what we say, but how we say it and where we say it."

According to Competitive Media Reporting, Schwab spent $191 million on measured media advertising in 1999.

Schwab executives are expected to hear final presentations this week in the reviews for the female-targeted effort and the mutual funds assignment -- estimated at approximately $75 million in billings. Those will also be integrated assignments, with media and creative handled by the same shop, Mr. Short said.

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