Marketing exodus threat as Vodafone moves base

Vodafone is facing a mass exodus from its global brand marketing team after deciding to relocate from Newbury to Ireland for tax reasons.

Insiders claim that only three out of the 21-strong team have so far agreed to move to the new office in Dublin at the start of next year. David Wheldon, global director of brand customer experience, has agreed to move and will head the new team.

It is understood that staff who have turned down the offer to move include Aled Rees, who oversees the mobile giant’s £25m-a-year sponsorship of the McLaren Formula One team, and David Pinnington, who is responsible for its £20m-a-year Champions League sponsorship deal. It is understood that both are leaving the company.

It is not yet clear whether director of brand strategy and manifestation David Erixon will move to Dublin. Erixon was appointed to the role last year (MW August 10, 2006) to replace Neil Simpson, who is now chief executive of Publicis London.

A Vodafone spokeswoman says the entire global brand marketing team has been offered the opportunity to move but that she could not comment on individuals.

The spokeswoman, who admits that the move to Ireland gives Vodafone a “number of tax efficiencies”, adds: “We are confident that we will have a full global marketing team in Dublin.”

Sources claim the changes will significantly reduce the brand marketing team’s output, particularly around its McLaren and Champions League sponsorship deals. Vodafone’s global advertising account is handled by Bartle Bogle Hegarty.

The spokeswoman denies that the move will have any impact on marketing activity planned for 2008 and says it is “business as usual”.

The company established Vodafone Ireland Marketing about three years ago with a view to “managing brand in the international arena”. Until now only a handful of marketers have been based in the Dublin office.

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