Bank of America launches $2bn ad review, JWT goes digital while Ogilvy fires non-digitals

2012 has started with a bang on Madison Avenue with Bank of America, the second-biggest US bank after Citigroup, pitching its $2bn account while two WPP shops also make the news; Ogilvy & Mather (which we all thought was doing well) making an unexpected round of redundancies while JWT New York has dumped creative director Peter Nicholson after just a year in favour of two digital wizards, Jeff Benjamin, a partner at MDC Partners’ Crispin Porter+Bogusky and Mike Geiger, chief digital officer and associate partner at Omnicom’s Goodby Silverstein & Partners.

The Bank of America review of just about everything includes roster shops BBDO, Draft, Hill Holliday, Jack Morton, which handles experiential marketing, PR firm Weber Shandwick and WPP design outfit Brand Union. No doubt some outsiders will be invited too.

BoA has had a torrid time through the credit crunch and beyond, needing a US government bailout and lumbering itself with investment bank and US main street brokerage Merrill Lynch, known as ‘The Thundering Herd’ in its heyday. CEO Brian Moynihan has promised to slash $5bn in annual costs and, along with about ten per cent job losses, this seems to mean fewer (and maybe cheaper) agencies.

Meanwhile, while JWT is putting digital experts in charge of its creative department, WPP sibling Ogilvy & Mather is taking the axe to those unfortunates (about 60 of them) who don’t have the requisite digital experience. “Staffers who lack digital and mobile marketing skills,” as the agency puts it.

North America boss John Seifert says the agency is expecting a slowdown in new business (last year it won the Philips account and its Chicago office won a big chunk of SC Johnson) and also that clients are switching to project work.

At JWT Benjamin and Geiger, who used to be work together at Goodby, will be reunited in one of the more dramatic signs that digital creatives are well and truly in command of the executive suite these days. JWT global boss Bob Jeffrey says he has wanted to recruit the two for a while but was unable to while the agency handled Microsoft, which apparently disapproves of poaching. Microsoft departed JWT last year.

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About Stephen Foster

Stephen is a former editor of Marketing Week and London Evening Standard advertising columnist. He wrote City Republic for Brand Republic and is a partner in communications consultancy The Editorial Partnership.