There's Something Really Strange About JPMorgan Chase's Digital Ad Review

JP Morgan Chase BankChris McGrath/Getty ImagesA sign on the outside of a Chase bank branch in New York City.

JPMorgan Chase is reviewing its $US70-80 million digital advertising business.

The intriguing nugget from this fairly standard practice comes in details sources told Adweek about how the company is going about finding a new agency.

Normally, companies contact individual ad agencies and ask them to pitch new ideas for the account. In this case, JPM has gone over their heads, to the corporate layer above them, Adweek says:

“JPMorgan Chase has reached out to advertising holding companies via a request for proposals, leaving it up to them to decide which of their agencies will pitch the business,” Adweek reports.

That’s unusual. Rather than going directly to ad agencies based on past impressive work, JPMorgan appears to be adopting a more hands-off approach, and allowing their parent companies Dentsu, WPP, Interpublic, Publicis, and Omnicom to do it for them.

It isn’t unheard of for clients, particularly in the financial services sector, to go to parent companies for holding company solutions — but that’s usually done when it is reviewing its entire ad business. For example, in 2005 Bank of America selected Omnicom Group to take over all its marketing services. Different Omnicom agencies were assigned to every portion of BofA’s advertising account, from creative to digital.

Sources within the ad world tell us that it would be strange for JPMorgan Chase to go to go to holding companies for a slice as small as its digital business.

JPMorgan Chase confirmed to Business Insider that it was doing a digital review, but it didn’t comment further about its search process. But it didn’t deny that it was going directly to holding companies, either.

So what’s going on here?

This could be a sign that JPMorgan Chase is considering a complete agency overhaul rather than just the digital review it has confirmed.

Its total ad business was $US2.35 billion in 2011, according to Ad Age’s Data Center.

Saatchi & Saatchi, McGarryBowen, and other agencies from an assortment of holding companies currently do a lot of JPMorgan Chase’s ad business and would stand to lose if this were the case.

Or perhaps it is going an untraditional route and putting a lot of power in holding company hands.

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