BT plots £100m consolidation

BT's plan for a holding company agency model threatens independents such as St Luke's and Allmond.

BT is preparing to ditch its existing agency roster model and will invite holding companies to submit joint tenders for its £100 million-plus combined creative, direct marketing and media accounts.

The plan is said to be the brainchild of BT Retail's chief executive, Pierre Danon, who has passed his wishes on to the BT marketing director, Tim Evans. It is understood that the agencies on BT's roster have yet to be notified.

By switching to the holding-company model, BT would benefit from the economies of scale available to an advertiser of its magnitude. The move would also improve the company's ability to underpin its entire creative offering with a single coherent, unified marketing strategy.

BT currently uses four agencies for its £84 million above-the-line business: St Luke's, Abbott Mead Vickers BBDO, Fallon and, for business-to-business advertising, Quiet Storm. The review will almost certainly see AMV pitch with its Omnicom stable-mate PHD, which handles all of BT's media planning.

However, the news will come as a huge blow for St Luke's, which, as an independent, would be unlikely to take part in the review. St Luke's relies on income from its BT relationship - this year alone it was awarded an extra £19.5 million in BT billings.

The review could also be bad news for The Allmond Partnership, the only independent on a media roster that includes ZenithOptimedia and Starcom Mediavest. BT's £27 million direct marketing account, held by OgilvyOne, is also expected to be affected.

The move follows Evans' recent promotion to marketing director. Evans replaced Amanda Mackenzie, who quit in June to join HP.

Rebecca Morgan, the head of marketing communication, group marketing and brand at BT, denied the story. "BT is not reviewing its entire roster in a holding company review. BT has a number of above- and below-the-line agencies on its roster whose performance is evaluated on an ongoing basis as part of business as usual practice," she said.


Creative: Abbott Mead Vickers BBDO; St Luke's; Fallon; Quiet Storm

Media planning: PHD

Media buying: Starcom Mediavest; Outdoor Connection; ZenithOptimedia;

The Allmond Partnership

Direct marketing: OgilvyOne

Digital: Ogilvy Interactive; i-level; Tribal DDB

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