Agencies line up as Panasonic kicks off £15m review

LONDON - The Japanese electronics giant Panasonic is reviewing its £15m pan-European media account for its mobile phone handsets.

Following a series of pitches with the auditors, held earlier this month, the company has appointed the media auditor European Media Management to approach networks and draw up a shortlist.

Currently the account is split between different agencies throughout the region, with Universal McCann and its sister Interpublic agency Brand Connection both working on the UK account. According to Nielsen Media Research, it spent slightly more than £1m in the past 12 months.

Panasonic is aiming to increase its share of the world mobile phone market from the current 3.7% to 10% by 2005. This growth will have to come from international markets -- the company already has a 20% share of its local Japanese market.

Panasonic's European offensive is based on colour screen handsets and camera phones; in the first quarter of 2003, it was the fifth-largest vendor of them in Western Europe. The company has recently announced its latest line-up of mini mobile phones that are smaller than the average credit card.

The UK creative account is with McCann Erickson and is not thought to be affected by the review.

The Panasonic mobile phone division is part of the Matsushita Electric Industrial company. It changed its name from Matsushita Communications Industrials in January 2003.

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