Napster hands UK brief to Drugstore

Napster, the music download service, has appointed The Drugstore, the start-up formed by the former Lowe Group vice-chairman Marc Cave, to handle the creative assignment on its UK account.

Napster is putting an estimated £3 million behind a national press, poster and music and style magazine initiative aimed at maintaining and developing its market share at the expense of is biggest rival, iTunes from Apple.

The pair are seen as the two leading digital music shops.

The Drugstore, awarded the business after a four-way pitch, becomes Napster's first UK agency. Until now, the company has relied on PR and partnership marketing to build its brand. Media planning and buying is being handled by Mediaedge:cia.

The appointment coincides with a huge increase in music download sales, which now top 300,000 a week, an increase of 220,000 a week compared with a year ago.

"Napster has been doing well but it has to reach the next level of growth, otherwise iTunes will roll right over it," an industry source said.

The Drugstore's first work, which breaks at the end of this month, will feature Napster's cat-head symbol popping up in various unlikely locations.