£35M Direct Line brief up for grabs

Direct Line is reviewing its £35m insurance advertising account at Mortimer Whittaker O’Sullivan (MWO). The review will be overseen by group marketing director Jim Wallace.

The review will cover Direct Line’s home, motor, travel and pet insurance, as well as HR24, its home repair service.

Last year, MWO’s hold on the business was weakened when Direct Line moved its £1.8m life insurance business to Clark McKay & Walpole in a review handled by the AAR. MWO has been asked to repitch. Retaining the business is likely to be crucial for the future of the agency, which lost the £32m advertising business for AOL last year (MW October 30, 2003). Its remaining clients are Jim Henson, Redstone Telecom, VNU Business Publications and Silentnight Beds, which is talking to other agencies about a new project.

MWO won the Direct Line brief in 1996 from TBWA/London. The insurer’s parent company, Royal Bank of Scotland, last year bought rival Churchill, and has merged both into RBS Insurance, while maintaining the separate brands.

Direct Line was founded by insurance guru Peter Wood and was bought out by Royal Bank of Scotland. Its famous and long-standing red telephone branding was created by Davis Wilkins Advertising in the Eighties.

Media buying and planning is by MediaCom, which handles media for all of Royal Bank of Scotland’s businesses.

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