Bank of America splits with Hill Holliday amid Publicis Groupe consolidation play

CMO Meredith Verdone cited the need to speed up the company's data-driven creative strategy.

Publicis Groupe is to take on all marketing responsibilities for Bank of America as it closes the books on a longstanding relationship with IPG’s Hill Holliday. 

The finance giant said its decision was centered around a need to "accelerate our data-driven creative approach."

Hill Holliday has been instrumental in elevating the brand's story and strengthening trust in the wake of the financial crisis.

Its work will fold into GroupeConnect -- a bespoke arm formed by Publicis Groupe in recent years to service Bank of America. Leo Burnett is to play a leading role in the new relationship. Meanwhile, Starcom is to continue to lead media. 

Meredith Verdone, chief marketing officer at Bank of America, told Campaign US: "Bank of America is consolidating external marketing agency resources with one network, Publicis Groupe, to accelerate our data-driven creative approach and enable us to continue to focus on efficiency. 

"As a valued partner, Hill Holliday has consistently delivered outsized impact, partnering with us to solve some of our toughest and most complex challenges and we are appreciative of the relationship."

Bank of America's total media spend from June 2018 to July 2019 (including Merrill Lynch) was an estimated $122 million, according to COMvergence. 

The brand began in-housing some marketing services and changing up its agency partnerships in 2017, according to people with knowledge of the matter. 

Over the past several years, Hill Holliday’s relationship of several decades with Bank of America became more project-based than AOR. Notable work by the IPG shop includes meaningful diversity and inclusion initiatives. 

Karen Kaplan, chairman and CEO at Hill Holliday, said: "We are incredibly proud of our longstanding partnership with Bank of America, most significantly the turnaround story we helped drive in terms of reputation, trust, favorability and business results since the financial crisis.

"Our motto is to leave things better than we found them, and in this case, with the strategic tools needed for the future focus on execution."

A Publicis Groupe spokesperson said: "We are thrilled that Bank of America is expanding its relationship with the Publicis Groupe via its dedicated agency, GroupeConnect. Leo Burnett will be an important partner to GroupeConnect and to Bank of America moving forward."

The holding company is gearing up to issue its 2019 annual results on Thursday.

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