Iceland holds talks over £15m task

LONDON - The future of the £15 million Iceland account at HHCL & Partners is in doubt amid reports that the frozen food retailer has been talking to rival agencies.

The loss of the business would be a blow for HHCL, which has started to rally following a disappointing 2001.

The company's official line is that no review is under way. "Iceland conducts TV and print media advertising on an ongoing basis," a spokesperson said. "We have no plans at present to change our external agencies."

However, industry sources say Iceland executives have been studying agency credentials and reels and holding joint "workshop" sessions to test working chemistry.

Simon Burridge, HHCL's chairman, said: "We've been working with Iceland on a new strategy and developing new work which we have presented but which has not yet been bought."

The reports of a possible change in agency arrangements come five months after the arrival of Mike Coupe, the former Asda trading director, as the managing director.

Iceland, most well known for its "Mum's gone to Iceland" slogan, has been trying to win back customers through price cuts and offering traditional frozen foods again after its disastrous strategy of becoming the chosen retailer for foods free of genetically modified ingredients.

This put Iceland into direct competition with Tesco, Sainsbury's and Waitrose, all established brands in consumers' minds.

"Iceland's GM strategy has rebounded badly," an insider said. "Many bigger operations now have satellite operations to match what Iceland offers. It's difficult to see how it can successfully promote itself."

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