Homebase calls review of £18m ad account

Homebase has called a review of its £18 million advertising account, which is currently held by Abbott Mead Vickers BBDO.

The company is said to be talking to six agencies, including AMV, about a raft of new projects. The pitch is being handled by the AAR, although a shortlist has yet to be determined.

The move has cast doubt over the future of the store's current frontmen, Leslie Ash and Neil Morrissey.

It comes as the DIY retailer, now under new ownership, gears up for a stock market flotation, which could value it at £900 million. Homebase was sold by the AMV client Sainsbury's in 2000 to Shroder Ventures for £750 million.

AMV has held the account since 1989, and devised the current campaign three-and-a-half years ago. However, Homebase said there was no plan to ditch Ash and Morrissey, adding that the campaign was "working well and that the duo had been signed up to star in more activity.

The latest tranche of the campaign ran from March until June this year, and saw Homebase ditching 30-second ads for a series of ten-second spots. The media buying account, handled by PHD, is not thought to be up for review.

The review comes as Homebase trials new store formats; 15 of its stores now have mezzanine floors, and the concept will be rolled out to the whole portfolio as part of a £70 million refurbishment programme.

In June 2001, the company launched an upmarket range of home accessories, branded Academy, to compete against specialist retailers such as Habitat and tap into the minds of more affluent consumers.

Homebase has been without a marketing director since Tim James took up the post of trading director last year.

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