Speculation is mounting about Virgin Money’s £23m media planning and buying account as it continues its battle to take over beleaguered Northern Rock.
The company has already parted company with RKCR/ Y&R over a potential conflict with Lloyds TSB. The industry is awash with rumours that CHI & Partners is in line to pick up the advertising business because its management team is thought to be close to Virgin Money chief executive Jayne-Anne Gadhia, who joined from RBS earlier this year.
CHI denies it would be able to handle the account because of a conflict with RBS, its second-biggest client. Sources suggest that CHI is instead looking to snatch the media account from Manning Gottlieb OMD.
CHI announced plans to relaunch as a fully integrated “full service” agency offering media planning and buying earlier this year. WPP bought a 49.9% stake in the agency soon after (MW April 19) and it is thought that CHI will be able to tap into the media power of WPP’s Group M following the deal.
A Virgin Money spokes-man says a pitch has not yet been called for its £6m advertising business and that the agency will continue to work with RKCR in the interim.
He adds that Manning Gottlieb OMD remains the brand’s media agency and says it cannot decide on its advertising and media needs until its bid for Northern Rock is either accepted or rejected.
RKCR survived a review of the advertising account earlier this year, beating Beattie McGuinness Bungay to keep the business.
Manning Gottlieb OMD had not returned calls as Marketing Week went to press.