BLM picks up £20m media business for Intelligent Finance

Booth Lockett Makin has won the £20 million media planning and buying account for Halifax's online and telephone bank Intelligent Finance, known as IF.

The incumbent, CIA Scotland, has held the account for 16 months but it

is understood that IF was keen to move the business to a London-based

agency.

CIA London has a potential client conflict because of its long-standing

relationship with Nationwide.

BLM will start work immediately in order to develop multimedia plans for

the autumn.

IF is under pressure to perform - it has been beset by problems since

the outset, when it was repeatedly forced to push back its launch date

because of concerns that its online service would not be able to cope

with the anticipated traffic.

Reporting its interim results this week for the half year ending 30 June

2001, Halifax admitted that despite an investment of £140 million

in IF this year, the online operation is not expected to break even

until the second half of 2003 at the earliest.

Commenting on BLM's appointment, IF's marketing director, Angela

McIntosh, said: "BLM showed a keen understanding of our business needs and in particular the flexibility and value we demand."

This is the first major win at BLM for the managing director, Paul van

Barthold, who joined from MediaCom last September.

He said: "This is an exceptional win for us and shows that we can

compete on all fronts with the best media companies in the UK."

Quantum New Media, which is half-owned by BLM, has retained the online media planning and buying for IF. Union Advertising will continue to handle the creative account.