TBWA Simons Palmer in 10m Virgin Direct win…

TBWA Simons Palmer has won the creative account for Virgin Direct, which Virgin claims is worth 10m. It retains its grip on the 5m Axa Equity & Law business.

TBWA Simons Palmer beat Young & Rubicam, HHCL Brasserie and the incumbent integrated agency Consolidated Communications to the Virgin Direct account. The latter will be retained for tactical ad campaigns and public relations, while media buying will continue to be handled by Manning Gottlieb Media.

The appointment will mean the end of Richard Branson’s appearance in the Virgin Direct advertisements. The bearded founder of the Virgin empire was used by Ammirati Puris Lintas, which created the last television work for the company.

Carl Johnson, managing director of TBWA Simons Palmer, says: “Branson is a great asset, but Virgin Direct needs a positioning above and beyond him now.” It is likely that TBWA will handle the launch of the Virgin Bank later this year.

Financial services company Axa Equity & Law, a TBWA client before the merger with Simons Palmer Clemmow Johnson, has been persuaded to stay with TBWA Simons Palmer, despite talking to several other agencies.

The company is in the process of merging with Sun Life to create the UK’s third-largest life company, after the Prudential and Standard Life.

Sun Life is the chosen brand for sales of life business through independent financial advisors, while products sold directly or through relationships with building societies will use the Axa brand. The general insurance arm will be branded Axa Provincial.

Media planning and buying is currently handled by Eurospace. TBWA terminated its contract to put media buying through Eurospace earlier this year and will be urging the client to switch its business into MGM.

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