Budgets are undisclosed, but industry sources estimate the account will be worth around £100m.
Media arrangements have yet to be finalised, but Publicis Groupe's ZenithOptimedia subsidiary is thought to be in pole position to take on the job. The UK incumbent on the business, worth £2.9m above the line according to Nielsen Media Research, is John Ayling & Associates.
Besides the main Zurich brand, Publicis will also take on responsibility for the company's other subsidiary operations, which include Eagle Star Insurance and Allied Dunbar Assurance.
The appointment is a blow to Joshua, which handles the business in the UK and has created campaigns including spots featuring flying pigs and the actor Peter O'Toole.
The Publicis brief will cover a broad range of activity, including customer relationship marketing, investor relations, internal and external communications and sponsorship as well as above-the-line advertising.
The work will focus on Zurich's key markets -- the UK, Switzerland, Germany, Spain, Italy and the US. The Publicis office in Zurich will take lead agency status.
Publicis' triumph follows presentations to Zurich's chiefs in Switzerland last month by a number of undisclosed contenders.
Rick Bendel, the Publicis chief operating officer, who led the network's pitch, said: "Zurich is a powerful brand which is under-exploited in what is an increasingly dynamic sector of financial services."
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