HSBC, the London-based financial services company, is putting its global marketing communications account in review.
The move, widely rumored to happen late last year, will affect every aspect of marketing, from media buying to creative to below-the-line services such as public relations.
"Our objective is to minimize the number of agencies we retain, maximize cost efficiencies, and apply consistent brand communications strategies across the company," HSBC spokesman Adrian Russell said.
Mr. Russell said global holding companies Interpublic Group of Cos., WPP Group, Publicis Groupe and Omnicom Group have been invited into the review, which, he added, is closed. A final decision is expected at the end of May. Peter Stringham, general manager of marketing, is leading the search.
HSBC would not comment on its spending, but the global account is estimated at several hundred million dollars in media spending. In the U.S., the company spent $30 million in measured media for 2002, according to TNS Media Intelligence/CMR.
Incumbents on the business include Interpublic's Lowe Worldwide (creative agency of record), and Publicis' Zenith Optimedia Group, the global media buying agency.