JWT snatches £9m First Direct brief from WCRS

WCRS has lost the £3.9m advertising business for HSBC-owned First Direct. The brief has been handed to J Walter Thompson without a pitch.

The move out of WCRS had been expected since May, when WPP Group won the £350m global account for all of HSBC’s marketing services except public relations (MW May 13, 2004). Creative work was split between JWT and HHCL/Red Cell, and media buying went to MindShare. Direct marketing was split between rmg:connect and 141 Worldwide, and Landor was assigned branding and corporate identity work.

First Direct was the only part of the HSBC group that resisted the change. It is understood that the phone and online bank fought to stick with WCRS, which won the business in 1995.

The decision to part company with WCRS comes as First Direct commercial director Peter Simpson takes on additional responsibilities within HSBC, as head of marketing propositions.

He will assist HSBC customer propositions general manager Joe Garner with UK retail and business advertising and direct marketing. A First Direct spokeswoman says: “Peter will be sharing his expertise with the rest of the group.”

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