May 03, 2012

Bank of America Corp said on Thursday it has selected a team at WPP Plc as its global advertising agency of record after it put its account up for review in January amid repeated blows to its brand.

The second-largest U.S. bank also said Interpublic Group of Companies' Hill Holliday will take on additional assignments and keep responsibility for marketing the bank's Merrill Lynch wealth management and U.S. Trust units.

Bank of America spends about $2 billion a year on marketing, according to a source familiar with the situation. The decision means two firms, which had already worked for the bank, will have expanded roles in the company's efforts to revamp its reputation and win more customers.

A third firm, Publicis Groupe SA's Starcom USA, will continue to serve as its media planner, buyer and lead digital agency, the bank said.

Bank of America decided to drop Omnicom Group's BBDO, and left a fifth agency, The Richards Group, out of the winners' circle, a source familiar with the situation said.

The Charlotte, North Carolina-based bank last put its account up for review in 2006. The following year it debuted its current "Bank of Opportunity" tagline, which replaced its "Higher Standards" campaign.

Since that review, Bank of America has added the Merrill Lynch brokerage force and has become more global. But it has also seen its brand tarnished by government bailouts, a falling stock price and an ill-fated attempt to implement a $5 per-month debit card fee last fall.

Anne Finucane, the bank's global strategy and marketing executive, who played an instrumental role in the decision formerly worked for Hill Holliday. (Reporting By Rick Rothacker in Charlotte, North Carolina; Editing by Bernard Orr and Leslie Gevirtz)

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