One of the world's plum advertising accounts, with a spend of £400 million when it last changed hands in 2004, is up for grabs. British-based HSBC, the world's third largest bank, has confirmed that it is conducting a review of its marketing business.
The move comes eight years after HSBC consolidated advertising, media and direct marketing with a single holding company: WPP. Now, it is looking elsewhere.
The review includes both creative and media responsibilities and is expected to be completed by the end of March, according to HSBC . JWT and WPP will be defending the business.
HSBC's brand is one of the great success stories of modern marketing, according to HSBC themselves . As a company document put it this year , " Since 1998 we have operated under a single brand name combined with the graphic hexagon logo. Our iconic campaigns seen all over the world have drawn much favourable comment.
"The visibility of the brand and its unique marketing at airports has given us a very consistent personality and style."
So why the review? HSBC wants to benchmark its current agency roster against against the broader marketplace, a source told Adweek. Also, HSBC wants to ensure that agency and bank operating practices are aligned.
The bank was ranked the number one financial services brand by Brand Finance in August last year.
The new business strategy for the group, unveiled in May 2011 by the CEO Stuart Gulliver was said to be reflected in their latest advertising campaign.
"The emphasis is to build our brand further by reflecting on the future forces that will shape our world and commerce, many of which are clearly visible today," said the company then,
Be that as it may, the account with a global media spend in 2004 of £400 million, is a very tempting target, and agencies will be pulling out all the stops to impress.
Helping to manage the review is Efficio, a London-based consultancy, which on its website, describes itself as a "management consultancy focused entirely on procurement and supply chain optimisation."
A key figure in the review will be Chris Clark, group head of marketing, who took the top marketing post in December 2010.
In the last global pitch, the WPP agencies beat teams from Interpublic Group and Omnicom Group to land the business.
Apart from JWT, the winning team comprised eight other agencies, including direct marketing shop 141, corporate identity specialist Landor Associates and media players such as Maxus. The 2004 review lasted four months.
HSBC Holdings plc was founded in London in 1991 by the Hongkong and Shanghai Banking Corporation to act as a new group holding company and to enable the acquisition of UK-based Midland Bank.
In 146 years, HSBC has developed a global network of around 7,500 offices in 87 countries and territories