Bank of America is consolidating all external marketing services with Publicis Groupe, handled by a dedicated unit called GroupeConnect.
The decision brings Bank of America’s relationship with IPG’s Hill Holliday, a longtime agency partner, to an end.
“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,” Bank of America chief marketing officer Meredith Verdone said in a statement. “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.”
“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,” Hill Holliday chairman and CEO Karen Kaplan added in a statement. “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.”
Bank of America spent over $187 million in the first nine months of last year on marketing in the U.S., up from a little over $183 million total in 2018, according to Kantar Media.
Hill Holliday picked up Bank of America’s consumer business in late 2015, expanding the agency’s remit with the client. Publicis Groupe’s Starcom has handled media buying and planning for Bank of America since winning the account following a 2008 review.
The move will come as a significant blow to Hill Holliday, which lost another longtime client, Dunkin’, back in 2018. Hill Holliday declined to defend the creative account in a review that concluded with Dunkin’ naming BBDO and Arc Worldwide as its new creative partners and subsequently went through a round of layoffs impacting around 5% of staff. Publicis Media won media duties for Dunkin’ in June of 2018, following a review in which Hill Holliday’s Trilia reportedly did participate. In October of 2018, Hill Holliday eliminated project management roles as part of a strategic restructuring, which amounted to the agency’s third round of layoffs that year. Last February, Hill Holliday rolled out a separate brand for the health practice it launched in 2007, Hill Holliday Health.