Esure has moved its £9m direct marketing account in-house following the merger of its retained agency Sharpen Troughton Owens Response into RMG Connect.
RMG has been forced to resign the account because it already handles HSBC and, despite speculation that Esure was about to call a pitch, a spokeswoman says it will handle its own direct marketing – as it does its advertising.
Esure appointed WPP Group-owned Red Cell Response, which later became STO Response, in 2005 following a five-way pitch (MW March 31, 2005). The agency worked with Chris Wilkins and Sian Vickers, who created Direct Line’s red telephone in the early 1990s, as well as Esure chairman and Direct Line founder Peter Wood.
But WPP decided to merge STO into RMG Connect in September, just nine months after it changed its name. STO managing partner Martin Troughton left the agency and subsequently joined home improvement firm Anglian as marketing director (MW September 28). Gary Sharpen has also left, although the third partner, Nigel Owens, is still with RMG and is working on the Vodafone account.
RMG chief Jonathan Harman then left to join Carlson Marketing in September and was later replaced by Tim Hipperson, who joined from Draft FCB, where he was global director of relationship marketing.
Michael Winner returned as the face of Esure’s advertising at the end of last year (MW November 23) just 18 months after being dropped by the insurer.
Esure was launched in 2001 by Wood as a joint venture with Halifax Bank of Scotland. Its brands include Sheila’s Wheels and First Alternative.