BT hires Publicis Groupe for brand relaunch

Appointment is first time another agency has worked on BT brand advertising since AMV won business in 1996.

BT Group: AMV won account from Saatchi & Saatchi in 1996
BT Group: AMV won account from Saatchi & Saatchi in 1996

BT Group has appointed Publicis Groupe to create its brand relaunch campaign – the first time an agency other than Abbott Mead Vickers BBDO has worked on advertising for its core brand in 23 years.

AMV has handled all of the consumer advertising for the main BT brand since winning the account from Saatchi & Saatchi without a pitch in 1996. It will continue to work on consumer activation campaigns for mobile and broadband.

A BT spokeswoman said: "We work with a number of roster advertising agencies across the business (including Abbott Mead Vickers BBDO, Karmarama, Now, Saatchi & Saatchi, part of Publicis Groupe, and Wunderman Thompson) and value each and every one of those partnerships.

"For our next BT brand project, we have decided to change our approach and will work with Publicis Groupe, while AMV will continue to work on other projects. Our roster of agencies remains unchanged."

None of the Publicis Groupe agencies listed BT as a client in their submissions for their 2019 school reports.

A spokeswoman for Publicis Groupe declined to comment.

At the end of May, Wunderman Thompson created an ad campaign to promote the Champions League final on BT Sport.

At the time, BT told Campaign that it had not "made any changes to its agency partners". However, neither of Wunderman Thompson’s predecessors (J Walter Thompson and Wunderman) listed BT Sport as a client at the end of last year in their school report forms.

Wunderman won the combined BT and EE direct account in February 2017. Both Wunderman and AMV will have the opportunity to respond to briefs for BT Sport, a BT spokesman said in early June.

BT was the fourth-biggest advertiser in the UK in 2018 with £109.3m in billings, according to Nielsen. 

Saatchi & Saatchi works on advertising for BT’s mobile brand EE. Karmarama does above- and below-the-line communications for Plusnet and builds digital platforms for both EE and BT. Now holds the business-to-business account. Publicis.Poke handles digital and retail for EE.

The moves follow BT's restructure of its marketing division. Campaign revealed that BT was folding its brand and marketing function into its consumer division, under the leadership of BT Consumer chief executive Marc Allera.

At the time, BT said its group chief brand and marketing officer, Zaid Al-Qassab, would report to Allera, but it has since emerged that he is joining Channel 4 as its new chief marketing officer in September.

Pete Jeavons, director of marketing communications for BT’s consumer division, added the role of interim group brand director ahead of Al-Qassab’s departure.