Homebase puts £24m account up for review

Homebase, the DIY retailer, is reviewing the creative assignment on its £24m account out of Abbott Mead Vickers BBDO.

AMV has been invited to defend its 15-year tenure of the business against Lowe, Euro RSCG London and M&C Saatchi.

The review is expected to bring down the curtain on the advertising fronted by the Men Behaving Badly stars Neil Morrissey and Leslie Ash, which has been running for six years.

The decision to put the business up for pitch is in line with Homebase's plans to retreat from its value-for-money positioning. It wants to precipitate a reappraisal that will transform Homebase from a traditional retailer into a consumer lifestyle brand.

The review comes five months after the Great Universal Stores subsidiary centralised its media account into MindShare, dropping PHD, which had been handling media planning, from its roster.

For Lowe, the pitch provides the opportunity to build on a relationship with Homebase that began two years ago when the agency joined the company's creative roster alongside AMV.

At the time, it was expected that Ash and Morrissey would be dropped along with AMV if Lowe could come up with a fresh creative concept.

Ash and Morrissey were strongly associated with Homebase's value-for-money strategy. Having a famous on-screen couple shopping and doing up a new house was intended to reflect the fact that almost half the retailer's customers shopped in pairs.

At Euro RSCG, Homebase would complement the agency's existing assignment for Argos, which is also a GUS subsidiary.

The review is being overseen by Ajay Kavan, the Homebase marketing director, who joined last year from B&Q, the sector's market leader and Homebase's closest rival.

Founded in 1979, Homebase opened its first store in Croydon in 1981.

It has almost 300 outlets throughout the UK, serving more than one million customers every week.

In 2001, the group was sold by its then parent Sainsbury to the venture capital group Permira for £491 million. The following year, GUS bought it for £900 million to complement its existing retail catalogue shopping businesses Argos and Experian.

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