Hutchison Whampoa, the Hong Kong telecoms conglomerate, is seeking
an advertising agency to promote the third-generation mobile phone
network it bought earlier this year.
The company, which paid pounds 4.4 billion for the licence, is
understood to have an advertising budget of pounds 30 million earmarked
for its UK launch.
The pitch process is being handled by the AAR and it is understood that
the company is approaching an initial list of six agencies. Hutchison
Europe’s director of product and marketing, Dick van den Bergh, is
overseeing the search for an agency.
Hutchison launched Orange in 1994 with advertising through WCRS that
went on to win awards for its creativity and effectiveness. However,
since Orange’s sale to Mannesmann and, subsequently, to France Telecom,
the account has come under review and is in danger of being moved to
Lowe Lintas & Partners.
Hutchison Whampoa, which is controlled by Li Ka-shing, the chairman, has
enormous resources - in 1999 it made in the region of pounds 10 billion
profit - which will be used to back the UK launch.
However, the company is looking at sharing the requisite capital
investment by selling a 35 per cent stake in its UK operating company to
KPN and NTT DoCoMo, Dutch and Japanese telecoms companies respectively.
The partners, which are expected to pay between pounds 1 billion and
pounds 1.3 billion for their stakes, will have to fund the building of
the third-generation network and they are planning to bid for similar
licences in Germany, France and Belgium.