Barclaycard is to end one of the most enduring relationships in
advertising by retiring Rowan Atkinson as its incompetent spy Latham,
star of the company’s ads for the past six years.
The decision follows a dramatic rise in Atkinson’s profile as a comedian
after the success of his movie, Mr Bean - The Ultimate Disaster Movie.
Atkinson also used the Mr Bean character in TV ads for Mars
Confectionery’s M&M’s brand earlier this year.
The Latham character first appeared in ads for Barclaycard, along with
his more efficient colleague Bough, in 1991 and will appear in the 17th
and final ad for the brand before Christmas. It is understood Latham
will not be killed off in the ad.
Barclaycard, which spends pounds 15m a year on advertising through BMP
DDB, denied it was ending its relationship with Atkinson because of his
association as Mr Bean with M&M’s, but sources close to the company
suggest it was unhappy that Atkinson was no longer exclusive to
Barclaycard. Atkinson was retained on a rolling one-year contract with
Barclaycard and signed for a further year in May.
Despite being Europe’s largest credit card brand with nine million
customers, the change coincides with Barclaycard’s plans to relaunch
early next year in the face of stiff competition in the UK. The company
is understood to be revising the Barclaycard offer with a range of new
incentives designed to retain customers.
Barclaycard also restructured its marketing operations earlier this
year, following the departure of commercial director Shaun Powell to
Thomson Holidays. Its current head of marketing is Paul Parmenter.
A spokesman for Barclaycard said a change in advertising strategy did
not affect BMP DDB’s role. ’Barclaycard is currently reviewing its ad
campaign with Rowan Atkinson and will be revealing its plans
We have no problem with his association with other advertisers,’ he