Between the Lines: JWT's First Direct is at risk

The idea that an advertiser might talk to other agencies about ideas-generation and then ask its incumbent to implement them is nothing new. This seems to be the case with First Direct, which is talking to agencies other than JWT London about a new branding concept (page 1).

But in the case of First Direct, the talks carry greater weight. First Direct's HSBC parent pooled all of its business globally into WPP in January 2005. The fact First Direct is still running branding work created by WCRS already suggests this particular part of the overall relationship is showing some strain.

That's not surprising, though. Asking a single agency (particularly one with the uneven creative credentials of JWT) to satisfy all of the creative demands of a client as large as HSBC, under the auspices of a holding company-level international deal, is some challenge.

But with Reckitt Benckiser, Weight Watchers and Rice Krispies already heading out of the door, it is one challenge JWT's London new chief, Alison Burns, cannot afford to dodge.