Citibank to Young & Rubicam

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In a decision that blindsided its incumbents, Citibank N.A. assigned its consolidated worldwide account to Y & R Advertising, New York, which had not participated in the bank's formal agency review. Citibank executives estimated spending at $500m. Kirshenbaum Bond & Partners, New York, the incumbent that did not participate in the global review, retained Citibank's Advantage credit card and college ad accounts.

Y & R has resigned its KeyCorp bank business; KeyCorp's account will shift to Lord Group, a New York subsidiary of Young & Rubicam. A KeyCorp spokesman said the bank may evaluate whether to change agencies. Additionally, American Express Co. was expected to terminate its relationship with Young & Rubicam unit Wunderman Cato Johnson, AmEx's main direct marketing agency.

Citibank incumbents Foote, Cone & Belding, Lowe & Partners/SMS and J. Walter Thompson USA, all New York, had been involved in an on-and-off global review since late last year. Y&R earlier had refused to participate in the review due to conflicts with KeyCorp and American Express Co.

Citibank started hearing presentations on a global campaign in January but stopped in February to reorganize its international marketing organization. Presentations resumed in April, but in May the bank decided to go outside its agency stable for ideas.

The bank's global campaign will be launched early next year. Everything will be go through Y&R, although some work may be given to Lowe, which handled Citibank credit cards, said Brian Ruder, senior VP-global marketing. Executives at some contenders felt slighted to find out Citibank did not tell them it was hearing presentations from Y&R.

"It was our business and nobody else's," Mr. Ruder said. "Thompson didn't need to know what FCB was up to and so on."

Copyright August 1997, Crain Communications Inc.

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