First Direct shifts £20m account into J Walter Thompson

LONDON - Telephone bank First Direct has shifted its £20m advertising business into WPP-owned agency J Walter Thompson without a pitch, ending WCRS's 10-year hold on the account.

The move is part of First Direct parent HSBC's strategy to consolidate its marketing business into a single global network, following the news last year that it appointed WPP Group to its $600m advertising and direct marketing account.

Although the company said that First Direct will retain its "own brand independence and marketing style", it added that the bank would collaborate more with HSBC in "developing customer propositions".

Accordingly, First Direct commercial director Peter Simpson's role has been expanded. He will work closely with HSBC general manager for customer propositions Joe Garner across the group's retail and business marketing.

JWT was appointed as the lead creative agency on HSBC's advertising account in May last year.

The news is a blow to WCRS, which has handled the account for the past 10 years. The agency was responsible for developing the bank's current TV ad campaign, which features real customers talking about their banking experiences with First Direct.

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