TBWA direct shops merge to create London hub

- Tequila and Payne Stracey have cemented a merger deal which will create a top three marketing agency with claimed billings of £100 million.

- Tequila and Payne Stracey have cemented a merger deal which will create a top three marketing agency with claimed billings of £100 million.

Tequila Payne Stracey in London will form the hub of Tequila's expanding global network, and provides a focus for TBWA Worldwide's below-the-line offer, which has been developing steadily since TBWA acquired Tequila through this year's acquisition of its previous parent company, BDDP-GGT.

The merger throws up two client conflicts in the UK. Tequila will resign Chrysler-Jeep in favour of Payne Stracey's long-standing relationship with Nissan, while Payne Stracey will part company with Eastern Electricity due to Tequila's relationship with East Midlands Electricity.

Tom Wass, formerly the chairman and chief executive of Tequila, will be the joint chairman and chief executive alongside David Payne, the former chairman of Payne Stracey. Andrew Stracey, Payne Stracey's vice-chairman, will be the deputy chairman of the merged agency, and Ben Stephens, Payne Stracey's managing director, will take on the same role at Tequila Payne Stracey. Jane Asscher, Tequila's former managing director, will be given the title chief operating officer, and will drive international business.

The component agencies' creative directors, Mike Cavers from Payne Stracey and Sean Kinmont from Tequila, will become joint creative directors of the new shop, and Phil Cragg, Payne Stracey's planning director,will adopt the same role at the new agency.

"We have only been building the Tequila network for two-and-a-half years and there is a lot of work still to be done in creating a global below-the-line brand for TBWA," explained Wass. "For the next stage -- and we have very aggressive plans for the next three years -- we need a strong hub in London. We plan for Tequila Payne Stracey in the UK to be a centre of excellence and to be able to support the global network better than before."

The Tequila network is planning to invest in new areas in the near future, including a stronger data capability, new media and fast-track production facilities. Other plans afoot include setting up sister shops to the London operation in the north and in Ireland.

Payne added: "You can grow an agency like Payne Stracey and become medium-sized. But we wanted to become a significant player, so wanted to join forces to gain scale. Michael Greenlees -- who has always been interested in marketing services -- introduced Tom and me some time ago, and we have built an exciting vision."

Tequila was owned by BDDP, and was merged with OptionOne when that agency's parent, GGT, acquired BDDP. Tequila OptionOne was rebranded as Tequila London earlier this year.



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