AMV under threat as WH Smith talks to agencies

WH Smith is understood to be holding talks with three mainstream advertising agencies about its pounds 8 million above-the-line account.

WH Smith is understood to be holding talks with three mainstream

advertising agencies about its pounds 8 million above-the-line

account.



WH Smith’s agency of record since 1996, Abbott Mead Vickers BBDO, was

unaware of the talks. Last year the retailer, which has 700 outlets,

spent more than pounds 8 million through AMV.



The agency talks are said to be at a very early stage.



Like many retailers WH Smith, which has suffered a declining share price

this year, is facing tight trading conditions on the high street and is

said to be investigating all its options.



However, a WH Smith spokeswoman denied that the company has been

approaching agencies. Cilla Snowball, the managing director of AMV,

said: ’As far as we’re concerned we have a fantastic relationship with

WH Smith. We’re very active on plans for the future.’



The company recently entered a high-profile deal with Carlton

Communications, whereby the media owner will supply the retailer with

pounds 15 million worth of free advertising airtime as part of an

e-commerce joint venture (Campaign, 24 March).



WH Smith’s share price has slumped over the past year from a 52-week

high of 792.5p to 373p. It suffered a 6 per cent fall in music and video

sales in the 12 months to 31 August, 1999.



Before AMV, the retailer used Bartle Bogle Hegarty for five years and

DMB&B for 20 years. The media account is held by Starcom Motive.



AMV launched the Nicholas Lyndhurst campaign, which is still running,

when it won the account. The ads feature Lyndhurst - famous as Rodney in

the series Only Fools and Horses - dressed up as members of the ’Smith’

family. They use the strapline, ’Whatever you’re into, get into WH

Smith’.