Sailing trip to decide fate of 12m CU task

Commercial Union has stunned advertising agency executives by declaring the winner of its 12m creative account will be the team which performs best on a day’s sailing.

Shortlisted agencies Leo Burnett and Duckworth Finn Grubb Waters have been told they must each spend a day on board a yacht with the CU team, after the company’s board was divided over who to appoint.

Top CU management, who are known to have a passion for yachting, will assign the account (worth at least 12m a year for the next three years) to the agency team they “gel with”, according to insiders.

Sources say the agencies will be taken out in the middle of next month, probably on the Solent.

CU sponsored a yacht called The Commercial Union Assurance in the BT Global Challenge, the round-the- world yacht race, which returned to Southampton in July. The company has had use of the yacht for corporate hospitality, but according to a spokesman it is not owned by CU.

The insurer is reviewing its brand positioning, which may involve ditching its long-standing endline “We won’t make a drama out of a crisis”. This is seen to be irrelevant to CU’s growing portfolio of life products, such as pensions and savings.

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