Pearl & Dean has called in he police to investigate a series of “threatening” faxes and a funeral wreath allegedly delivered to its office by its rival RSA Advertising.
The faxes, which were addressed to P&D managing director Peter Howard-Williams on RSA headed notepaper, and the wreath, which read “in deepest sympathy”, arrived at the central London office the day after P&D failed to tempt the estimated £10m UCI Cinema business away from RSA.
The four faxes included a picture of a man hanging from the Pearl & Dean pillars by a noose and an apparently racist reference to the French owner of Pearl & Dean, Media Vision, and the loss of the Manchester-based UCI business. It said: “Mancunians are adverse [sic] to frogs [sic] legs.”
“We both pitched and thought that was the end of it until we received these horrific faxes,” says P&D sales director Rachel Thomas.
“It is the sort of intimidatory tactics we have seen increasingly over the past two years, but why they want to get involved in something like this after winning the business is a mystery,” he adds.
The UCI business would have doubled P&D’s market share of audience, which stands at 17 per cent.
RSA accounts for the rest but the pitch heightened speculation that it was likely to lose its dominant position. RSA chief executive Keith Shepherd suggested that the fax messages were part of a “friendly rivalry for contracts”.
“It was an internal matter and I have dealt with it internally and also written to P&D apologising if it caused any offence,” says Shepherd.
“I would never condone the sending of a wreath. The police contacted me but the issue is now dead,” he adds.