First Direct awards UK account to JWT

HSBC's First Direct has awarded its £5 million UK account to J. Walter Thompson and CheethambellJWT, as the final stage in its UK consolidation into WPP agencies.

The move sees WCRS relinquish the business after ten years. However, the brand will continue to market itself separately from HSBC, building on the positioning set by WCRS over the past decade.

The account has been slated to move out of WCRS as part of HSBC's £350 million global consolidation since last spring (Campaign, 19 March 2004).

The WPP-owned MindShare, which was given lead media agency status at the time of the HSBC consolidation, was appointed to handle First Direct in November.

WCRS developed First Direct's current TV campaign, showing real customers talking about their banking experiences. "WCRS has done such great work for First Direct over the years," Peter Simpson, First Direct's commercial director, said. "The brand will continue to prosper."

The change coincides with an expanded remit for Simpson, who is working with Joe Garner, HSBC's general manager for customer propositions, on retail and business marketing across the group.