Bank of America Moves Brand Advertising From BBDO to WPP

Holding Company Team Will Roll Out New Strategic Positioning

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Bank of America has shifted brand advertising duties to a WPP team from Omnicom Group's BBDO, according to two executives familiar with the matter.

Anne Finucane
Anne Finucane

The selection of WPP comes after a process that the bank, under its CMO Anne Finucane, began in January. WPP will now be responsible for the rollout of a new strategic positioning -- or what Bank of America was internally calling the development of a "North Star" that would signal to Wall Street and consumers that it's a new day at the bank, helping to repair the company's tarnished image.

The agency change will likely lead to BofA shedding its current "Bank of Opportunity" slogan, which was developed by BBDO. The tag was adopted a few years ago to replace the prior "Higher Standards" campaign, but it lost resonance amid a recession that tightened consumers' purse strings and crippled many small businesses across America.

WPP's Brand Union was already assigned to Bank of America, so the holding company secures an even larger place on the bank's roster with this win. Interpublic Group of Cos.' Hill Holliday, which has handled marketing duties for the bank's wealth management and corporate social-responsibility operations, among other things, is expected to retain its work. Those agencies either could not be immediately reached or referred calls to Bank of America, which did not return a request for comment by press time.

It's unclear what the moves mean for Bank of America's PR shop, Weber Shandwick. Media duties and digital were not in play.

According to Ad Age 's DataCenter, BofA is the 17th-largest marketer in the country, with $1.55 billion in ad spending in the U.S. The company's rethink comes amid widespread mistrust of large financial organizations that manifested in the Occupy Wall Street movement.

According to an agency briefing document that Ad Age obtained in February, the group that weighed in on the review included, in addition to Ms. Finuane, the following senior execs: Claire Huang, who runs marketing globally for Bank of America's institutional business; co-Chief Operating Officers Tom Montag and David Darnell; Jim Mahoney, director of public policy; and the bank's top boss, CEO Brian Moynihan.

In an internal note to the agency this afternoon, BBDO Worldwide President-CEO Andrew Robertson expressed his disappointment. It said: "Our Bank of America team has worked tirelessly and passionately on the business, not just over the last four months, but for the last seven years, often under extraordinary pressure ... our work helped drive sales." He added: "The transition will probably take some time and I know the bank can expect the same professionalism from the team in this period that they've come to know over the years."

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