Red Cell on alert as Fiat invites Publicis to contest Alfa task

Red Cell's tenure of the £50 million Alfa Romeo pan-European account is under threat in what is being seen as an attempt by Publicis Groupe to grab all the business from the brand's Fiat parent.

The key test will come within the next two weeks when Red Cell goes head to head against the Publicis-owned Fiat Co-ordination Centre in Turin for the European launch of Alfa Romeo's GT coupe at the end of this year.

Publicis chiefs believe that winning the pitch will be crucial in convincing the beleaguered Fiat that it could achieve a huge reduction in its overheads by aligning all its advertising within the group.

The Co-ordination Centre, which comprises about 40 staff from Leo Burnett, the now defunct D'Arcy network, Starcom and Arc Integrated Marketing, has just bolstered its relationship with Fiat by being appointed to handle work for its Lancia subsidiary.

The assignment is to launch the Lancia Ypsilon, a small car designed to compete with the Mini and regarded as crucial to the Lancia marque's future.

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