Seat UK chief in bid to block Grey stranglehold

Seat UK’s marketing chief is fighting a rearguard action to stop all his business going to Grey London, following a European realignment of the car marque’s marketing after the demise of Cordiant Communications (MW September 4), which handled the account through Bates.

Last week it was confirmed that Grey Worldwide has been given the &£50m pan-European above-the-line business, but Seat UK head of marketing Mark McKenna wants to appoint a local agency to adapt Grey’s work for the UK and for below-the-line tasks. McKenna says: “I have a shortlist of two or three agencies with whom I will have detailed discussions.”

But a source close to the company says McKenna does not have the power to appoint his own agency and is likely to be forced to work with Grey across the board. McKenna has yet to meet representatives from Grey London, which is understood to be expecting to get the account in its entirety.

Grey Europe, Middle East and Africa chief executive and chairman Bernd Michael, who brokered the Seat deal, declined to comment on the confusion surrounding the appointment or Seat’s UK arrangements.

Following WPP Group’s take-over of Bates, Seat was forced to look for a new agency. Ford, which has a preferential relationship with WPP, is understood to have objected to the Volkswagen-owned Seat hiring the network.

Grey is setting up a Barcelona office, staffed by former Bates employees, to handle the Seat account. Seat has its headquarters in Barcelona. In 1999, sister Volkswagen-owned brand Skoda went against the wishes of parent company and appointed Fallon as its UK advertising agency.

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