Axe hangs over NatWest roster as cost-cutting drive bites

At least one NatWest roster agency is likely to be a casualty in the six monthly advertising review, following a bank-wide cost-cutting investigation by management consultants McKinsey’s.

McKinsey’s has been called in to investigate all processes within NatWest, including supplier relationships. Inside sources say that NatWest’s group purchasing division has issued all agencies with questionnaires regarding their contracts.

Head of brand communications Ian Schoolar says there are eight creative agencies and one media agency on the advertising and design roster, which is called the Link.

“It is possible we will cut down. We are always looking for the most effective and efficient way of addressing our creative needs,” says Schoolar.

The eight creative agencies on the Link are: Bartle Bogle Hegarty, Ammirati Puris Lintas, DMB&B Financial, Hamilton Wright, Holder Henry Pearce & Bailey, Sth Stretch The Horizon, Minale Tattersfield & Partners and Smith & Milton Original. Media is handled by Motive Communications, and is not being reviewed.

“We only have nine agencies now. The figure three years ago was closer to 30,” adds Schoolar. He says he does not envisage dropping BBH or APL from the roster.

NatWest was hit last year by a ten per cent fall in pre-tax profits to 1.01bn. Investment banking division NatWest Markets made a huge 706m loss and NatWest was forced to make an 80m provision against possible losses in South-east Asia.

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