It's time to place your bet for Orange's pitch: but who is the chalk?

As the biggest pitch of the year hots up, Campaign considers who are the runners and riders on the hotly contested £43 million Orange business.

With the gloves now off, M&C Saatchi, Bartle Bogle Hegarty, WCRS and Mother are preparing to fight it out for the multimillion-pound prize.

But what are the odds on the various sparrers in the ring?

Mother - 2:1 joint favourite

The Orange brand marketing director Jeremy Dale's love affair with Mother knows no bounds. After all, they've been through a turbulent time together with the ugly demise of ITV Digital. Word on the street is that Dale wants another icon a la Monkey to front the brand, putting the smart money to win on the Clerkenwell hotshop. But be warned: Mother has its detractors, who want evidence that the agency's credentials can deal with a brand as serious as Orange.

BBH - 2:1 joint favourite

Bartle Bogle Hegarty is a good bet. A veteran of the telecoms market, it has more than proved its outstanding credentials in the field.

The safe money could well be on this lofty ship, whose top creative got Kate Moss talking to Elvis Presley and Ian Wright chatting with Martin Luther King.

Also, Dale might join a long line of clients tempted to "do a Levi's".

But quite aside from that, just pit BBH's last baby ad for T-Mobile against the universally reviled Steffi and Andre nightmare from Saatchi & Saatchi Frankfurt to see how easy it is to completely murder a telecoms brief. 'Nuf said.

WCRS - 4:1

There at the inception of Orange in 1994, WCRS has fantastic experience of the brand.

But the creative brainchildren Rooney Carruthers and Larry Barker are long gone, as is planner Charles Vallance.

Still, don't underestimate WCRS's flamboyant chairman Robin Wight's tenacity and his uncanny ability to shoe-horn in business which has often unnerved competitors - not to mention his track record in winning back previously departed accounts (look at the Prudential recently).

M&C Saatchi - 6:1

No prizes for guessing how M&C got on to this shortlist - nothing to do with the partner and fixer extraordinaire, David Kershaw, and his penchant for swinging business from his chums into the eager hands of the agency, of course. John Allwood, the Orange UK vice-president, is known to Kershaw and Lord Saatchi from his days as the Mirror Group's chief executive - one of M&C's founding clients. It's all too cosy. On top of that there's M&C's proven, admirable ability to emerge, stealth-like, on pitch lists.

But M&C and telecoms haven't proved to be a match made in heaven. Just ask BT; although M&C is still on its roster, it's unclear how BT feels about it sleeping with the enemy.

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