Burnetts bows out as B&B calls pitch

The Bradford & Bingley Building Society is reviewing its advertising as a precursor to a major marketing push promoting its status as the UK’s second-largest mutual building society.

The Bradford & Bingley Building Society is reviewing its

advertising as a precursor to a major marketing push promoting its

status as the UK’s second-largest mutual building society.



The incumbent of 17 years, Leo Burnett, has declined to repitch. M&C

Saatchi, Rainey Kelly Campbell Roalfe and one other agency - still to be

chosen from two remaining candidates - will fight it out for the

task.



The review is being overseen by Ruth Blakemore, commercial director of

the B&B, who was appointed by its chief executive, Christopher

Rodrigues, last month to help expand the society’s assets by 50 per cent

over the next four years.



She said: ’We are well into the process of reviewing our product and our

distribution strategy and we are looking for a long-term strategic

partner. We will be investing more than our current spend of pounds 10

million a year in a heavyweight marketing campaign.’ The society spent

pounds 3.5 million on above-the-line advertising last year, according to

AC Nielsen MEAL.



Stephen Whyte, managing director of Burnetts, said: ’We are sad and

disappointed that B&B has called a pitch so soon after Blakemore’s

arrival. On balance, we think we should withdraw and explore other

opportunities.’



The survival of the trademark bowler hats, used in B&B’s advertising for

the past 25 years, is in the balance as a result of the review. ’They

have been an incredibly valuable tool, but they have brand values

associated with them which can be seen as out of step,’ Blakemore

explained.



The winning shop will advise on all aspects of the business, including

media and below the line, currently serviced by Burnetts media

department and McCann-Erickson Manchester.



M&C Saatchi has a relationship with Rodrigues stemming from a generic

project undertaken last year to promote the idea of mutual building

societies.



The work wasn’t used, but Bill Muirhead, founding partner of M&C

Saatchi, said: ’The mutual side is an area which we find interesting,

and we have experience in the field.’



The society will focus on the benefits of its mutual status, translating

the concept about which the public is relatively unenlightened into

specific product benefits.



An agency is expected to be in place by the end of April and this will

be followed by a period of strategic planning. A new campaign is not

expected until 1999.



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