- J Walter Thompson's hold over the £30 million Barclays Bank account is under threat, as the bank talks to other agencies about its business.
The agencies involved are pitching for a brief to create a corporate branding campaign, but sources say the winner may be in line to pick up the entire retail financial services account in the UK. A spokeswoman for Barclays was unable to deny this. She said: "I am not able to go into that much detail."
Although the branding campaign is thought to be international, it is not yet clear if JWT's management of Barclay's global business is under threat.
The company is finalising the shortlist and is believed to be going through the AAR. The Barclays spokeswoman said the shortlist will be complete by the end of the month.
News of the bank's search for an agency to develop an international corporate campaign broke last October (Campaign October 23, 1998). It added weight to speculation -- which has circulated the industry for months --that the main retail account was in trouble at JWT.
It is not the first time the company has looked beyond JWT for advertising support: It appointed Banks Hoggins O'Shea to the launch of b2, the mass-market share ownership scheme it unveiled last May. The agency put together a campaign featuring Richard E Grant.
The bank also put its £2 million Barclays Capital relaunch account up for pitch at the end of 1997. The account was awarded to JWT after a pitch against Young & Rubicam and Dewe Rogerson.
Barclays launched a massive direct marketing campaign through below-the-line shop Rapier last September. The mailshot aimed to inform customers of a new service enabling customers to make immediate withdrawals on uncleared cheques and also to stem a rise in complaints about poor service.
The bank's chief executive, Martin Taylor, quit in a shock move last December. Taylor had a vision for the bank that differed from that of the rest of the board: he wanted to split retail and corporate banking as businesses.