Vodafone in £50m agency talks

Mobile phone giant Vodafone is conducting a secret review of its European advertising arrangements which could result in an account worth up to £50m being handed to the successful agency network.

The company is poised to appoint one network to create a consistent brand message in several key European markets. The new advertising is likely to start in countries such as Germany and Sweden, where the Vodafone brand does not exist.

Earlier this year, the company bought German telecoms business Mannesmann for £105bn. When the merger was first proposed, Vodafone said it was aiming to create a “truly European company” and Chris Gent, Vodafone’s chief executive made it clear that he intended to build a global mobile phone brand.

The review is being overseen by Thomas Geitner, who formerly headed-up a division of Mannesmann, and has now been moved to head European product development and sits on the board of Vodafone.

A spokeswoman for Vodafone admits that a review is taking place, but refuses to give details of the part of the business is involved, the names of the advertising agencies pitching, or how much the budget is worth.

She claims the review will not affect local advertising agency relationships. In the UK, Vodafone’s £13.5m ad business is handled by BMP DDB.

In May, Vodafone paid £4.4bn for a third generation mobile phone licence in the UK and is bidding for other licences in Europe.

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