NEWS: Proton car account source of confusion to pitching agencies

Proton, the Malaysian car-maker, has picked a small Westcountry start-up agency to handle its pounds 5.5 million account, leaving some agencies in dismay at the way the pitch was conducted.

Proton, the Malaysian car-maker, has picked a small Westcountry start-up

agency to handle its pounds 5.5 million account, leaving some agencies

in dismay at the way the pitch was conducted.



The four-month search ended with the announcement this week that the

business had been won by Bedrock Advertising and Marketing, set up last

September by Bob Bennett, a former board director of McCann-Erickson in

Bristol.



The switch is a huge blow to Quadrant, the Warrington agency that

launched Proton into Britain in 1989 and which has already made six

redundancies as a result of the loss.



Originally Quadrant was not invited to repitch, but reports suggest the

agency eventually did repitch for the business under another name. But

David Moss, Quadrant’s managing director, declined to discuss the

reports, saying: ‘It’s nothing I would wish to comment on.’



Meanwhile, other agency managers have expressed concern over what they

claim was the confusion surrounding the pitch, in which shortlists were

trimmed only to be extended again and the brief changed.



‘It was like going into a tunnel with the lights off,’ one said. At one

time the shortlist was up to six agencies before the final contest

between Bedrock, BDH, Quadrant and Mitchell Patterson Aldred Mitchell.



The change of agency takes place against a background of falling UK

sales for Proton from a peak of just under 15,000 at the end of 1993 to

9,000 last year.



Bennett, 35, plans to augment his 15 staff through alliances with a

media independent and a below-the-line specialist to work on the

business and insisted he would have adequate resources to service it.



‘The pitch was fair and open,’ he said. ‘All the agencies were given

time to talk the brief through with the client.’



Bedrock’s appointment is likely to lead to a TV test campaign for Proton

early this year. ‘The market has been difficult for everybody,’ Bennett

said. ‘The car is very competitively priced and our aim is to build it

into a brand that means something.’



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