AAI and Haystack to create partnership

The Haystack Group and Agency Assessments International are forming an alliance to cover agency search and selection both in the UK and internationally. The AAI Haystack Partnership’s first brief is the global review of the Volvo account.

The partnership will handle agency search and selection, and offer consultancy to clients in the UK and globally. It will also advise on “developing new and innovative strategies” to help companies cope with changes in media.

It is understood that the merger decision was triggered by the departure of Stuart Pocock from AAI to set up his own pitch consultancy, The Observatory. It is also thought that a decrease in the number of major above-the-line pitches has also led to the decision for the two groups to work together.

Haystack Group founders Suki and Alan Thompson will focus on domestic business, with AAI founder David Wethey focusing on European and international business. Wethey is overseeing the European pitch for Volvo out of Amsterdam and the Haystack Group will handle it in London. It will be handled by Dick Roth Associates in the US.

The companies will not be merging their relationship management, evaluation or training businesses and both will continue to offer consultancy services to their individual clients.

Wethey launched AAI in 1988 and it has a particular focus on international business. It has recently handled pitches for BMW, Chiquita and Sony Ericsson. The Haystack Group launched in 2001 and has worked with clients such as Sainsbury’s, Sky and Weetabix.

The Volvo pitch was called at the end of last year and the incumbents Euro RSCG Worldwide and Fuel were invited to pitch. It is understood that the car marque is taking to Ogilvy & Mather, JWT, Fallon, M&C Saatchi, 180 Amsterdam and Strawberry Frog, although the list has not been confirmed.

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