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Wachovia appoints WPP to $150m account

NEW YORK - Hard hit US bank the Wachovia Corporation has appointed a team of WPP Group agencies to handle its $150m (£82m) combined creative and media business.

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The New York office of Ogilvy & Mather will lead the account, handling creative duties.

Maxum will handle media planning and buying, digital activity will be handled by Neo@Ogilvy, and direct-mail activity will be through Soho Square.

To win the business Ogilvy saw off competition from sister WPP shop Young & Rubicam in New York. Omnicom Group's Merkley + Partners and Interpublic Lowe in New York also took part in earlier rounds of the review.

The creative business had previously been handled by Interpublic Group agency Mullen, based in Winston-Salem, North Carolina, while media had been handled by Aegis Group's Carat office in Boston.

The review began before the financial meltdown hit Wall Street and the world's financial markets and Wachovia has been hard hit.

As the review concluded it has been confirmed Wachovia, which is the fourth-largest US bank, is to be bought by Citigroup in a rescue deal. Under the deal, Citigroup will absorb up to $42bn (£23bn) of Wachovia losses.

Despite putting the budget at $150m, Wachovia said in a statement that its spend "would likely be smaller in 2009 compared to 2008 given market conditions".

Art Smith, head of Global brand marketing at Wachovia, said: "Selecting one of the premier ad agencies in the world should be viewed as a strong indication of our focus on future growth.

Carla Hendra, co-CEO of Ogilvy North America and chairman of Ogilvy New York, said: "Wachovia is a quintessential American brand with huge growth potential.

"We are thrilled to be partnering with the Wachovia marketing team as they design a brand strategy for the long term that will translate to competitive advantage in the marketplace."

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