Bank of America Corp. has selected a new ad agency of record after an extensive review, part of an effort to rebuild its image in the face of significant changes, the lender said Thursday.
The Charlotte bank chose advertising giant WPP as its global agency of record. It also plans to ramp up creative assignments at Hill Holliday, the Boston firm where Bank of Americas marketing chief, Anne Finucane, once worked. That firm will retain marketing responsibility for Merrill Lynch Wealth Management and U.S. Trust, the bank said.
Bank of America, the nations second-largest lender by assets, launched an evaluation of its ad accounts in January as it sought to better communicate the significant changes that have taken place at the company and in the broader economy, it said. The move came on the heels of biting criticism from consumers, shareholders and politicians after a series of management missteps and a stock price plunge.
The bank drew public ire last year, for instance, when it announced plans to charge some customers $5 for using their debit cards before later scrapping the idea. Meanwhile, shares slid nearly 60 percent as the bank continued to slog through mortgage troubles stemming from its 2008 purchase of Countrywide Financial Corp.
Chief executive Brian Moynihan has been working to cut costs and bolster capital since he started in the banks top job in 2010. The bank has slimmed down as a result of Moynihans wide-ranging efficiency initiative, Project New BAC, shedding noncore assets and slashing jobs.
Finucane, Bank of Americas global strategy and marketing officer, said in a statement Thursday that the new ad strategy will help reflect those changes.
We have fundamentally transformed into a stronger, more straightforward company that serves three groups of customers with distinct financial services, she said. These agencies ... will help us better communicate both the progress weve made as well as the value of our brand and our company to all of our stakeholder groups around the world and across all of our lines of business.
Bank of America is estimated to spend $2 billion a year on its marketing efforts, according to some reports. The bank last put its ad account up for review in 2006 before it acquired Countrywide and Merrill Lynch & Co., and before the financial crisis and later rolled out its Bank of Opportunity campaign, created by BBDO Worldwide.
WPP, the U.K. firm that already handles some work for the bank, will take over the lenders overall brand positioning, as well as branding and advertising for its consumer banking, global banking and markets and global commercial banking divisions.
Starcom USA, a unit of Publicis Groupe, will continue to serve as Bank of Americas media planner, buyer and lead digital agency, the bank said.
The bank didnt say what slogan it will use going forward. Last month, veteran ad executive Michael McDonald pitched the bank with an ad of his own in the Observer. He suggested the bank adopt, Bank of America: Living up to our name.