Halifax Equitable in talks with agencies for launch account

Halifax Equitable, the insurance company created when Halifax

acquired Equitable Life in March, is talking with agencies about

producing a launch campaign for the new brand.

The company is in the process of drawing up a shortlist, but a final

marketing budget has yet to be decided.

The pitch, being conducted through the Advertising Agency Register, will

be headed by Nick Cook, the chief of marketing at Halifax Equitable.

Cook joined the new company in April and was previously the advertising

manager at Equitable Life.

Halifax bought Equitable Life earlier this year for pounds 1 billion,

after fighting off a last-minute intervention by GE Capital in the US.

The sale included the company's workforce and premises.

Halifax also owns the financial services company Clerical Medical.

Equitable Life went pounds 1.5 billion into debt after the Court of

Appeal and House of Lords ruled the company should honour guaranteed

annuity rates.

Halifax, currently in proposed merger talks with Bank of Scotland,

spends more than pounds 20 million a year across its business on

advertising through Delaney Lund Knox Warren & Partners, which won the

account from Bates last year.

The company is currently backing its high interest current account with

a campaign starring its own staff with backing tunes based on songs such

as Tom Jones' Sex bomb.

TBWA/London is Equitable Life's incumbent above-the-line agency.

It most recently ran a campaign in February 2000. The moody

black-and-white ads featured minor celebrities such as the actors Amanda

Burton, Tom Bell and John Peel. The media was handled by New PHD.