Lowe faces £15m Vauxhall ad pitch

Lowe's grasp on its key Vauxhall account has weakened further following the car giant's decision to review its £15 million retail account from sister agency Lowe Broadway.

The move follows Lowe's loss of Vauxhall's £9 million account for the Astra marque, which was awarded to the new roster agency Delaney Lund Knox Warren & Partners this week. The appointment secures DLKW almost half of Vauxhall's total £60 million advertising budget in the UK.

The new pitch for Vauxhall's retail arm is being handled through the AAR, as Vauxhall seeks to promote its network of dealers through above-the-line advertising. It is thought the pitchlist, being drawn up at the moment, will extend beyond Vauxhall's roster to include other agencies with suitable experience.

Lowe Broadway's most recent campaign for Vauxhall's retail business was launched in July to promote sales of its sporty models. The TV ads - part of an integrated campaign - featured the strapline: "Pay zip interest. Zip down to Vauxhall."

The pitch comes at a bad time for Lowe, which has handled the Vauxhall account for 18 years, and recently lost the £16 million Corsa account - Vauxhall's biggest brand - to DLKW in June. It is also battling against DLKW for the multimillion-pound task to launch a new model, the mini-MPV Meriva, next year, but will retain the Vectra account as well as other parts of Vauxhall's corporate account.

DLKW's addition to Vauxhall's roster came as the company sought to share out the creative accounts handled by Lowe and liven up its brands. The move mirrors a past arrangement, which saw the then-independent Rainey Kelly Campbell Roalfe handle the Astra account. RKCR resigned the account when it was bought by the Ford network Young & Rubicam.

Vauxhall invited DLKW and DFGW to pitch for a place on its roster in March. At the time, the company denied the roster system, which sees Lowe fight DLKW for each Vauxhall brief, had been implemented owing to any dissatisfaction with Lowe's work.

Lowe's weakening grip on Vauxhall is one of several blows the agency has suffered this year. It resigned the £43 million Orange account last month, and also saw the £10 million Burger King account move to DLKW in July.

The agency was slow to fill the gap left by its previous executive creative director, Charles Inge, following his departure to start Clemmow Hornby Inge in May 2001. However, last week it promoted Tony Barry and Damon Collins to be its joint executive creative directors.

- Newsmakers, p17.

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