Holland & Barrett has appointed WCRS to handle its £5m advertising business following a competitive pitch. The final contest was against M&C Saatchi.
It is the first time that the retailer has appointed a retained advertising agency. It has previously used Guerilla Communications to create product-led tactical advertising.
In recent years, the ads have featured Eighties popstar-turned-gardener Kim Wilde, but she has since been dropped in favour of employees, to emphasise Holland & Barrett’s specialist knowledge. The health food sector has recently become more competitive, as supermarkets and Boots have added health products to their ranges.
The initial pitch list included CheethamBell JWT and Red Brick Road, which later pulled out of the pitch (MW April 10).
Holland & Barrett has 499 stores worldwide and claims to be the UK’s leading retailer of vitamins, minerals and herbal supplements.
The health food retailer will be facing another challenge next year from an EU Food Supplements Directive that is likely to ban about 200 supplements and limit the doses in which vitamins can be sold.
The directive had been expected to come into force in 2005, but was held up by internal wrangling over which products should be included in the ban. It is not thought that the directive will be implemented before 2009.