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
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
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
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
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.