£32m Orange creative review puts WCRS under pressure

Mobile phone operator Orange is reviewing its £32m creative advertising account out of WCRS after seven years – the third major blow to the agency in a month.

Mobile phone operator Orange is reviewing its &£32m creative advertising account out of WCRS after seven years – the third major blow to the agency in a month.

Orange head of brand marketing Rob Furness says: “We are certainly talking to agencies with the help of the AAR. WCRS will be considered but it will not necessarily be in the pitch process.

“We have been with WCRS since 1993 and we’ve acknowledged that things will get hot in our business over the next two to three years, so we have got to get the right partners lined up ready.”

Furness denies the review is linked to Vodafone Airtouch’s &£84bn takeover of Mannesmann, the German mobile operator which acquired Orange for &£22bn in October 1999.

He refused to divulge which agencies are pitching for the account because some have conflicting business, but he expects to make a decision “fairly quickly”.

A two-stage review will be carried out – a round of strategic thinking and then a second creative ideas stage. The media account held by Mediapolis is not affected at this stage.

WCRS suffered a major blow last week when Sega Europe pulled its &£60m pan-European advertising account out of the agency and appointed Bartle Bogle Hegarty instead.

In January, Rover stripped WCRS of its &£30m international account after only five months, consolidating its business at M&C Saatchi.

Over the past six months the agency has won the &£8m Anchor business, &£6m Buzz, the &£4m Mayor of London and the multi-million pound launch of theshare.com.

Orange gained more subscribers in the last quarter of 1999 than its rivals Vodafone, BTCellnet and One 2 One, adding 1.4 million customers to its customer base which totalled 4.9 million by the year end.

It is the UK’s third largest mobile operator.

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