Great Western Financial's advertising agency will stay on-at least through the fall campaign-to promote what is now Washington Mutual Inc.'s Great Western brand.

The decision to retain Bozell Worldwide, announced last week, indicates that Seattle-based Washington Mutual doesn't want to upset the applecart in California as it absorbs Great Western, which was acquired July 1.

"I don't think this is the right time to make dramatic shifts among their advisers in the California market," said R. Jay Tejera, an analyst with Dain Bosworth Inc.

New York-based Bozell will create a series of newspaper and radio advertisements promoting Great Western consumer products.

The news was surprising because Washington Mutual has had a six-year relationship with another New York agency, McCann-Erickson. Washington Mutual officials stressed that this relationship would continue, and that McCann-Erickson would remain the company's primary ad firm.

Bozell had been Great Western's advertising agency since the beginning of the year. It was selected after Great Western severed its long-standing ties with Dailey & Associates of Los Angeles.

With Bozell's help, Great Western launched a new image campaign and scrapped long-running advertisements that featured John Wayne.

It's unclear how long Bozell will be used by Washington Mutual, which stopped short of announcing a long-term relationship. Washington Mutual "is just looking at one more area to not create disruption," said analyst Joseph Morford of BT Alex.Brown Inc.

Mr. Morford said Bozell is familiar with the markets in which it does business. Because Bozell's ad campaigns have been reasonably successful for Great Western, "they probably said, Why not just stick with that now."

Washington Mutual operates under four names: Washington Mutual in Washington, Idaho, Montana, and Utah; Western Bank in Oregon; and American Savings Bank and Great Western Bank in California. Eventually the California banks will all be named Great Western, Washington Mutual said.

Company officials said they are reviewing all their brand names and developing a longer-term strategy.

Current plans call for using Great Western in California and Florida, said spokesman William Ehrlich. "However, we're reviewing what would be the most effective strategy for a national brand in the long term."

Subscribe Now

Access to authoritative analysis and perspective and our data-driven report series.

14-Day Free Trial

No credit card required. Complete access to articles, breaking news and industry data.