TBWA retains 15m Virgin Direct

TBWA GGT Simons Palmer has held on to the 15m Virgin Direct account but Rainey Kelly Campbell Roalfe has been handed a strategic branding project.

Virgin Direct launched the review because of a potential client conflict. This was a result of TBWA and GGT Direct winning the 50m NatWest retail and banking account in June – as revealed exclusively in Marketing Week. (June 25)

However, after talks with CDP and Rainey Kelly, Virgin Direct has decided to retain TBWA. Virgin One, the bank account, is to stay with TBWA due to advanced plans for its 3.5m TV advertising launch in September.

Brand manager Steve Taylor says TBWA reassured Virgin Direct that it will handle the account separa tely from the NatWest business.

Virgin Direct will also change its advertising strategy to be less controversial and avoid knocking rival high street banks, says Taylor.

He says: “We are a grown up company now and there will be no need to indulge in that type of advertising, although we may still refer to high street banks generically.”

Rainey Kelly will work on a branding project until the end of the year and may still have a chance to bag the full account in the future. “Rainey Kelly has the opportunity to wow us but so does TBWA. The Rainey Kelly project will run until the end of the year and if the agency produces wonderful work we will reconsider. Until then it is business as usual,” says Taylor.

TBWA has also retained its two other main financial clients – insurance giant Axa, which spent 8m on a branding campaign in April, and life assurance company Equitable Life, which spends 4.6m annually (ACNielsen-MEAL)

TV ads for Virgin One will feature comedian Chris Langham instead of Virgin Direct chairman Richard Branson – it has been reported that the company wishes to distance itself from Branson because of his “frivolous” image.

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