Co-op Bank picks MullenLowe as ad agency

The Co-operative Bank has appointed MullenLowe London as its first ad agency since it was spun off from The Co-operative Group last year.

Co-op Bank: Leo Burnett created the 'It's good to be different' brand positioning in 2016
Co-op Bank: Leo Burnett created the 'It's good to be different' brand positioning in 2016

The Manchester-based bank, which transferred into the ownership of a private equity consortium following a spell of financial turmoil, launched an ad agency review last month and ran a competitive pitch.

MullenLowe will be tasked with reinforcing the bank’s ethical principles in its marketing and repositioning its brand for the 21st century. 

Leo Burnett, the incumbent agency, repitched for the business in a four-week process run by Murphy Cobb Associates.

Publicis Groupe shop had been the agency of record for all Co-operative Group brands from 2012 until last year, when the business was split.

While Leo Burnett kept the banking business, the food account was moved fully into indie creative shop Forever Beta, which had started working on Co-op Food in 2016.

Co-op Bank’s last major brand repositioning came in 2016, when it launched "It’s good to be different". The campaign’s launch spot featured guerrilla gardeners in London and promoted its Everyday Rewards incentive scheme. 

The bank’s marketing activity was previously heavily rooted in The Co-op Group's ethical policy. The group launched a new slate of ethical promises in January 2015, following the bank going through a torrid time of not just financial losses but scandal around the behaviour of its then-chairman Paul Flowers, dubbed 'The Crystal Methodist'.

Andrew Bester was appointed as chief executive of The Co-operative Bank in July. Bester had previously run Lloyds Bank’s commercial banking division.

Alastair Pegg, the bank’s marketing director, said: "We were very impressed with MullenLowe’s excellent customer insight, which will form the basis of our brand strategy as we move forward."