Martin out as $60 mil Bank One in review

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Bank One Corp. is severing its decade-old relationship with the Martin Agency, Richmond, Va., and throwing its $60 million creative and media buying account into review.

Bank One is looking for an agency to help build its image as a major, national player in the financial services arena in the wake of its acquisition last year of First Chicago NBD Corp.

"We have mutually agreed to end our 10-year relationship," said a Bank One spokeswoman. The merger with First Chicago provides "an opportunity to look at our advertising and marketing strategies and our creative."

Mike Hughes, president-creative director at Martin, said the shop was proud of its work for the bank but will not participate in the review. The shop is expected to persue other financial-service clients.

Bank One is in the process of contacting agencies, but the spokeswoman declined to identify any.

"The agencies you'll see in this review are nationally recognized," she said.

Other Bank One shops include Ornelas & Associates, Dallas, for Hispanic work; and Fitch & LaRowe Advertising, an alliance between Fitch, Ann Arbor, Mich., and LaRowe Advertising, Chicago, which has work for First Chicago.

With $240 billion in assets, Bank One is the fifth-largest bank in the U.S. and the dominant player in the Midwest. It also has a nationwide corporate business and is neck-and-neck with Citibank as the largest credit-card issuer in the U.S., according to industry newsletter Credit Card News.


"They're looking for someone who can help them transcend their regional bank image," said Charles B. Wendel, president of Financial Institutions Consulting.

Bank One joins other large regional banks re-evaluating their agency relationships and ad strategies.

As banks grow beyond their traditional territories and enter new areas of business, creating a distinct brand image is becoming increasingly important.

First Union Corp., which has a presence along the East Coast, made a bold and controversial move in this direction with an expensive, special-effects-laden campaign from Publicis & Hal Riney, San Francisco, which has run on national TV in markets far from its branch territory.

On a smaller scale, Chase Manhattan Corp. is trying to build its brand through new ads for its credit-card products. The bank tapped Foote, Cone & Belding, New York, as its agency last year.

BankAmerica Corp. tapped Bozell Worldwide, New York, and Temerlin McClain, Irving, Texas, after merging with NationsBank.


Bank One has spent the past few years trying to develop its marketing prowess and build its brand through advertising.

The bank reached into the retail world to hire former Taco Bell Chief Operating Officer Kenneth Stevens as CEO of its national retail group in 1996. In this position, he oversees marketing.

Under Mr. Stevens, the company has made unusual moves for a bank. Its "Bank One to One" campaign from Martin sought to highlight Bank One's ability to offer customized banking services and used handheld cameras and grainy b&w film to illustrate the hectic pace of life.

Copyright January 1999, Crain Communications Inc.

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