TOP SWISS BANK NEARS SELECTION OF GLOBAL AGENCY: 3 ZURICH SHOPS STILL IN RUNNING FOR PRESTIGIOUS $20 MIL PLUM

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Switzerland's largest bank, UBS, expects to choose a global ad agency before the end of the month.

The merger of Schweizerische Bankverein with UBS last fall left the bank with two international ad campaigns and several agencies.

The three finalists, all based in Zurich, are Advico Young & Rubicam; Weber, Hodel, Schmid; and Publicis. Publicis was added to the list about two months ago.

A fourth agency, Bosch & Butz, a Zurich-based arm of the Lowe & Partners network, was dropped from the review.

The UBS agency for North and South America is Hill Holliday/Altshiller, New York, which is not participating in the review.

ACCOUNT MAY BE SPLIT

The global account may be worth as much as $20 million. UBS has run a high-profile campaign for the past two years by Advico, but the spots run on inexpensive international cable and satellite TV with an estimated annual budget between $5 million and $10 million.

The former Schweizerische Bankverein used hot shop Weber Hodel and probably spent a similar amount on international print ads. That campaign was stopped after the two banks merged.

A UBS spokeswoman said a decision on the agency should be made in another week.

"The review has been ongoing for over six months," an agency executive said. "It could well be that UBS splits the account and names two agencies, one for Switzerland and another one for international."

Weber Hodel did separate local and international print campaigns for its former bank client.

The international campaign focused on private banking and used the bank's emblem of three keys. Ads showed antique keys representing keys to success, performance, relationships and other bank traits.

RESOLVING CONFLICTS

Advico's ads feature well-known actors reading poetry. The campaign started two years ago with Sir John Gielgud and the most recent flight of five TV spots stars U.S. actor Harvey Keitel.

Advico has continued to handle the UBS account even after parent Y&R won Citibank's worldwide business last year.

"We tend to get over conflicts by making sure they're handled in different places," said a Y&R Europe spokesman in London. "More and more clients are willing to have conflict problems resolved."

Some conflicts are more direct than others. Y&R did have to resign Commerz Bank, a $30 million account in Germany, because of Citibank's plans to spend heavily in that market.

Hill Holliday is preparing a new print campaign for the bank, expected to break in the Americas at the end of the month.

Like previous campaigns, this one will include little or no corporate image, focusing instead on the bank's various products and divisions.

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