Royal Mail set to extend Carat’s £40m tenure

Royal Mail is rumoured to be in talks with Carat about extending the Aegis-owned agency’s grip on its &£40m planning and buying account.

Speculation surrounds the account, following Royal Mail’s continued refusal to start a statutory review, which was expected earlier this year. Carat’s contract expires in March 2006, but it is thought to include a clause allowing Royal Mail to extend it for up to a further 12 months.

The media account includes a &£30m brief for Royal Mail’s international, consumer and stamps businesses, as well as a &£10m brief for Parcelforce Worldwide. Carat also runs Royal Mail’s data planning and controls its countrywide database.

Carat originally won the account in 1997, when it beat then incumbent MediaVest and OMD UK in a three-way pitch. In 2002, the agency held on to the business after a statutory pitch against Zenith and MindShare.

Royal Mail’s &£20m above-the-line account is held by Abbott Mead Vickers. BBDO, which won the business in 2003,

Royal Mail is trying to reverse poor public perceptions and raise its corporate image. It appointed former Orange global brand chief Alex Batchelor as marketing director, to help achieve the turnaround (MW April 21). He took up his post in June. Nobody was available for comment at Royal Mail or Carat as Marketing Week went to press.

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