Nectar shakes up £25m below-the-line account

Harrison Troughton Wunderman has won a key portion of Nectar's below-the-line business in a move that casts serious doubts over WWAV Rapp Collins' grip on the £25 million account.

The WPP agency has been given responsibility for a specific direct marketing project. While WWAV is retained, the appointment of HTW will undoubtedly come as a blow for the agency, whose relationship with Nectar has been put under strain recently.

The Nectar reward scheme, which is run by Loyalty Management UK, ran into trouble within days of its September launch. WWAV produced direct marketing material which offered prospects 100 bonus points if they registered on the Nectar website, rather than mailing back application forms.

However, in its first week of launch, the site experienced up to 100,000 hits a minute and consequently collapsed under the strain. Nectar was eventually forced to put a notice on its homepage directing prospects to its call centre.

The problems arose as LMUK attempted to meet its ambitious target of signing up 50 per cent of UK households to the reward scheme within 12 months of its launch.

A LMUK spokeswoman confirmed: "We are still working with WWAV Rapp Collins on two major projects. However, we will now be working with Harrison Troughton Wunderman on a project basis."

Nectar was launched with an estimated £50 million worth of TV, radio, print advertising and direct marketing, with above-the-line work produced by WCRS. It immediately faced competition from the rival Air Miles and Buy & Fly schemes, both of which launched multimillion-pound promotions.

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