Sainsbury’s Bank kills off Little Bill and axes agency

Sainsbury’s Bank is thought to have terminated its relationship with Chick Smith Trott and plans to axe the Little Bill character. The advertising business is worth &£15m.

Insiders suggest that the bank is not looking for a replacement agency.

A spokesman for Sainsbury’s Bank says the agency, formerly known as Walsh Trott Chick Smith (WTCS), stopped working on the business – which covers the bank’s insurance products – in March this year, having being appointed on a one-year contract only. The agency was appointed two years ago (MW October 28, 2004).

But a source close to the agency says client meetings are still happening, with a contract in place until the end of this month. He further suggests that Sainsbury’s Bank is looking for an agency to handle a credit card project.

Additionally, Sainsbury’s Bank insists the Little Bill icon is to remain at present, despite a strategic decision earlier this year to align the bank’s marketing more closely with the supermarket’s “Try Something New” strategy (MW February 23).

There are no plans to run above-the-line car insurance advertising in the near future. Sainsbury’s Bank, which is part-owned by HBOS, appointed Rob Walker as chief executive last month. He replaced Tim Pile, who left in March prior to the release of “disappointing” results (MW March 23). Pile was responsible for the appointment of WTCS.

The rest of Sainsbury’s business is handled by Abbott Mead Vickers.BBDO. It is understood that the retailer might consolidate the business into AMV.BBDO.

Separately, eSure, which underwrites the bank’s insurance products, is to pilot its women-only brand Sheila’s Wheels in store. If successful, the product – which would sit alongside the white-labeled car insurance – could be rolled out across the chain.

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