M&C Saatchi was informed of its win on Monday afternoon. Both agencies have been presenting new strategies and creative routes to the company's new marketing director, Mike Tildesley, over the past few weeks.
Tildesley joined the Royal Bank of Scotland-owned insurance and finance business in October. Direct Line explained that the agency switch was because Tildesley wants to provide a fresh approach to the brand. RBS's chief executive, Fred Goodwin, is understood to have become directly involved in the appointment.
Over the past six months, CHI has developed a campaign that centres on twin brothers, who suffer from identical mishaps. The brother who is insured by Direct Line finds himself in a much better position than his twin.
In the new round of presentations, CHI is understood to have put forward one creative route that included the twin idea, and one that did not.
The agency's appointment last year came after a protracted and demanding pitch process, which saw M&C Saatchi, CHI and Ogilvy & Mather deliver multiple strategies and creative solutions. The incumbent on the account, Mortimer Whittaker O'Sullivan, was not involved.
RBS is a significant client at both M&C Saatchi and CHI. M&C Saatchi handles RBS's Privilege and NatWest accounts. CHI, meanwhile, handles Mint, The One Account, Lombard Direct and First Active for the financial services company.
Tildesley said: "M&C Saatchi has a strong history of delivering fresh, exciting advertising, which closely reflects Direct Line's own brand and approach to business. CHI has done a great job working for Direct Line and will continue to work for other companies within the RBS group."
M&C Saatchi's chairman, Moray MacLennan, added: "We are thrilled to be working with such a well-known brand as Direct Line and look forward to delivering strong new creative in 2006."
It is an important win for M&C Saatchi: last month it lost the British Airways account, which spends £31 million in the UK.