Proton, the Malaysian car-maker, has picked a small Westcountry start-up
agency to handle its pounds 5.5 million account, leaving some agencies
in dismay at the way the pitch was conducted.
The four-month search ended with the announcement this week that the
business had been won by Bedrock Advertising and Marketing, set up last
September by Bob Bennett, a former board director of McCann-Erickson in
The switch is a huge blow to Quadrant, the Warrington agency that
launched Proton into Britain in 1989 and which has already made six
redundancies as a result of the loss.
Originally Quadrant was not invited to repitch, but reports suggest the
agency eventually did repitch for the business under another name. But
David Moss, Quadrant’s managing director, declined to discuss the
reports, saying: ‘It’s nothing I would wish to comment on.’
Meanwhile, other agency managers have expressed concern over what they
claim was the confusion surrounding the pitch, in which shortlists were
trimmed only to be extended again and the brief changed.
‘It was like going into a tunnel with the lights off,’ one said. At one
time the shortlist was up to six agencies before the final contest
between Bedrock, BDH, Quadrant and Mitchell Patterson Aldred Mitchell.
The change of agency takes place against a background of falling UK
sales for Proton from a peak of just under 15,000 at the end of 1993 to
9,000 last year.
Bennett, 35, plans to augment his 15 staff through alliances with a
media independent and a below-the-line specialist to work on the
business and insisted he would have adequate resources to service it.
‘The pitch was fair and open,’ he said. ‘All the agencies were given
time to talk the brief through with the client.’
Bedrock’s appointment is likely to lead to a TV test campaign for Proton
early this year. ‘The market has been difficult for everybody,’ Bennett
said. ‘The car is very competitively priced and our aim is to build it
into a brand that means something.’