Fleet divides $150 mil direct marketing prize

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Fleet Financial Group divided its $150 million direct marketing business between Devon Direct, Berwyn, Pa., and Barry Blau & Partners, Wilton, Conn., after a three-month review that originally included nine agencies.

The two agencies "understood our brand positioning and voice, and incorporated that in their work," said Betsy Richardson, senior VP-corporate marketing at Fleet. "They were very smart on segmentation and marketing."

Fleet, which bought Advanta Corp.'s $11 billion credit card business earlier this year, was seeking a direct marketing agency to handle not only the credit card portion of its business, but also retail banking, commercial banking, consumer lending, mutual funds and brokerage business.


Ms. Richardson said Fleet hasn't decided which portions of the business will go to Blau and which to Devon. Executives close to the review said Devon would likely handle the credit card work, while Blau would handle the rest.

Devon Direct was Advanta's direct marketing agency. Clarion Marketing & Communications, Greenwich, Conn., which also participa- ted, was the Fleet incumbent. Other participants included Bozell Direct, New York; Euro RSCG's Cohn & Wells, San Francisco; Gillespie, Princeton, N.J.; OgilvyOne Worldwide, New York; and Robertson Marketing Group, Salem, Va., which handles project work for Fleet.

Arnold Communications, Boston, originally entered the review in a joint pitch with sibling shop Blau. But Arnold, which handles Fleet's $40 million general advertising account, was relegated to advising Blau after Fleet asked it and Blau to pitch separately; both are owned by Snyder Communications.

Pile & Co., Boston, conducted the review.


"We're going to enter into an expanding relationship" with Fleet, said Ron Greene, president-CEO of Devon, noting Fleet will tap into a much broader base of the agency's overall capabilities than did Advanta, including interactive, database and research.

Ms. Richardson said Devon's credit card experience with Advanta was crucial and Blau's relationship with Arnold created synergies. She also said Fleet is hoping the two agencies will be able to fully leverage the bank's customer database.

"By combining our data warehouse with these two agencies," Fleet should make an impact, she said.


Fleet is planning on bringing Advanta products under the Fleet logo next year. Besides Advanta, Fleet's recent acquisitions include national discount brokerage Quick & Reilly and Columbia Funds.

"I think we demonstrated leadership in financial services marketing," said Dennis Eastham, CEO of Blau Marketing Technologies, parent of Barry Blau & Partners. Blau has had a number of financial services clients over the past two decades, including an 18-year relationship with Citibank before the consolidation of that business last year at Young & Rubicam, New York.

Contributing: James B. Arndorfer.

Copyright August 1998, Crain Communications Inc.

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