National Express reviews

Rail and road transport company seeks agency for consolidated creative account.

National Express is hunting for an agency to handle the consolidated advertising account for its recently merged train and coach services.

The transport group, which started rebranding all of its UK companies under the National Express UK banner in January, has appointed the AAR to handle the review.

As part of the brand overhaul, CHI & Partners developed a new corporate identity for National Express, including the rebranding of its livery and the introduction of the strapline "making travel simpler". The agency is expected to pitch for the ad business.

National Express is looking for a single agency to promote it as a unified brand across all of its coach, bus and train operations and to work alongside its media agency, Media Planning Group, which was appointed to work on the combined account last year.

The new agency will replace National Express' relationships with the incumbents on its individual subsidiary businesses. Hooper Galton handles advertising for National Express Coaches, while CDP works on National Express East Coast, which operates the East Coast Mainline route. Both are expected to compete for the account.

The process, which is at an early stage, will be held in two parts. The first will ask long-listed agencies to create a brand strategy, including how to apply the "making travel simpler" positioning across all of its operations, and to address how it will work at a local and group level. Agencies that make it through to the second part of the process will be given a creative brief to develop a campaign based on the proposed strategy.

Maria Heckel, the group director of brand strategy at National Express, is overseeing the process. She hopes to have an agency in place by June.