After a short pause, Countrywide Credit Industries is back in the hunt for an advertising agency to create its new promotional campaigns.
At the end of May, Countrywide suspended its search, telling four small Los Angeles agencies it had approached that it was doing so "due to changes in the business environment" of the mortgage industry.
Now, Countrywide has hired Select Resources International, a West Los Angeles consulting firm, to oversee its expanded search.
Michael G. Agate, Select's president, said Countrywide had consolidated its retail division, which oversees its nationwide branch network, and the lender's telephone marketing operations.
The lender had been searching for an agency to handle just its retail operation. Now, Countrywide hopes to find an advertiser to handle all aspects of the newly formed unit, known as the consumer markets division.
Countrywide is the home-loan industry's most aggressive advertiser. Last year, it launched a nationwide television ad campaign, one of the first lenders to do so.
Advertising is especially important to Countrywide considering that it has no commissioned loan officers to drum up lending business.
A spokeswoman for Countrywide declined to comment.
The account will now be shopped to 10 or 15 larger agencies in Los Angeles and San Francisco. The four companies originally approached will not be counted out, Mr. Agate said.
Preliminary Meeting Held
He said the search was "still in the formative stages," and it will take about eight weeks to find an agency. He held a preliminary search meeting at Countrywide on Tuesday.
Adweek, a tabloid covering the advertising industry, had reported Countrywide's ad budget to be $8 million to $10 million.
Mr. Agate said the new budget Countrywide is shopping around is "well in excess of $10 million."
In May, Jack Calnan, a principle at Elliott and Associates, a small Los Angeles ad agency, said that his firm would remain Countrywide's principal advertising shop until the lender completed its search.
But this week, Mr. Calnan was confused about Countrywide's position.
"They haven't told us a thing," he said. "We don't know a thing about what's going on."