Agencies line up for £8m First Direct DM

First Direct, the HSBC-owned telephone bank, has kicked off a search for an agency to handle its £8 million direct marketing account.

The company is in early discussions with several agencies and plans to hold credentials meetings in the next two weeks. First Direct's head of direct marketing, Colette Nugent, is handling the process.

The review covers both the acquisition and retention direct marketing accounts. The news will come as a blow to the incumbent, Craik Jones Watson Mitchell Voelkel, which has handled the acquisition business since 1991.

A roster of local agencies, including the Edinburgh-based Story, handles retention marketing. Craik Jones is expected to defend the account, for which it has produced award-winning work, including the Fuzzy Felt campaign that scooped last year's Campaign Direct Grand Prix.

First Direct is the third of Craik Jones' flagship accounts to call a pitch this year. Orange and Land Rover moved their business into Wunderman.

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