Prudential Looks to Outside Shops After Handling Advertising In-house

New Agency Likely to Have to Work With 'the Rock' Symbol

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NEW YORK ( -- Prudential Financial is reaching out to shops to pitch its $85 million U.S. advertising account, much of which is currently handled internally.

"We are conducting an agency search, but not commenting any further," said a spokesman for the Newark, N.J.-based company, which offers individuals and businesses life insurance, annuities, mutual funds, investment management, and retirement and real estate services.

According to industry executives, the process is being handled by Ark Advisors, a search consultancy in New York. Representatives for the firm declined to comment.

Whoever the company ends up hiring, marketing communications will likely have to incorporate Prudential's longstanding brand symbol, "the Rock," which is inspired by the Rock of Gibraltar and has been used by the marketer as a way to communicate strength and stability.

Earlier this month, the company posted profit of $536 million for the first quarter of 2010, compared to a net loss of $5 million for the year-ago period. According to Kantar Media, Prudential spent about $85 million on U.S. measured media in 2009 and some $18 million in the first three months of this year.

Last October, it unveiled a major multimillion-dollar advertising campaign that used a Morse-code theme to demonstrate Prudential answering an "SOS" call from businesses who need help. The work, which was created in-house, was heavy on print and outdoor executions -- including signage in New York's Times Square.

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