WCRS is expected to gain the 6m (Register-MEAL) Land Rover account from Bates Dorland without a pitch.
The business, including the brief for the Discovery, as well as dealer support, Freedom Finance and Assured Used Cars, has been with Bates since 1989. Bates holds the account in the UK and other countries, including South Africa and Portugal. Its work is adapted by other agencies around the world.
German brand owner BMW has confirmed the account has been withdrawn from Bates, but refuses to comment on whether it will be picked up by WCRS.
A Rover Group statement says: “The Land Rover brand will see major developments… including the introduction of a new range of 4×4 models of the forthcoming compact car [a smaller version of the Discovery]. As a result, the decision has been taken to withdraw the Land Rover car account from Bates from March 1.”
The win would strengthen WCRS’ hold on the BMW agency roster – it already holds the 11m account for BMW in the UK.
WCRS chairman Robin Wight was appointed to the Rover board as a special consultant on advertising in June 1995, and part of his role includes vetting advertising for Rover and Land Rover.
The move will fuel speculation that Wight is using his position to win more BMW business. The 100m Rover Cars business, one of the UK’s largest car accounts, is held by Ammirati Puris Lintas. Wight declined to return Marketing Week’s phone calls.
The Land Rover move follows suggestions that the company was unhappy with Bates’ creative work. Last year, a press and poster campaign, featuring line drawings of the Land Rover Discovery, was withdrawn (MW October 18 1996). The company denied this was because it was unhappy that the poster did not show a picture of the car.
Bates says its advertising has helped boost Land Rover sales in the UK from 3,410 in 1989 to almost ten times that amount.