Pitch Update

Paddy Power is no stranger to the occasional ad review or, indeed, stirring up controversy with its advertising (who can forget that blind footballer kicking the cat in a TV spot last year?).

Now, it seems that the bookmaker wants to stir up interest by holding its latest search for a creative idea via the crowdsourcing site www.ideabounty.com.

Deciding not to use its project agency, Big Al's Creative Emporium, or to contact agencies directly about its latest project, Paddy Power is offering the princely sum of $3,500 to whoever can come up with a "big creative marketing/advertising idea" that it can use across 2011. Apparently, this is a chance for aspiring creatives to "pitch brave, crazy and audacious ideas that every other client says they would like to do but don't - so be fearless".

Given that Paddy Power has brought us ideas such as setting the world record for a strip poker contest, it seems unlikely that it's willing to entertain anything remotely tasteful or decent. This is confirmed by the brief, entitled "Bring the Noise", that it has posted on Idea Bounty. Paddy Power says that it wants to inspire conversations in pubs along the lines of "Did you see what those guys at Paddy Power did?", "How the f@@k did they get away with that?" and "Who cares - it's bloody funny". Our sides are already splitting in anticipation.

Back to more serious matters. The Diageo brand Red Stripe, which kicked off a review at the end of last month, has shortlisted Fallon, Abbott Mead Vickers BBDO and 18 Feet & Rising to pitch for its UK advertising business.

This week's departure of the British Airways head of global marketing, Kerris Bright, has fuelled more speculation regarding the future of the airline's advertising business. Conversations were said to be due with the incumbent advertising and direct marketing agencies (Bartle Bogle Hegarty and OgilvyOne) about renewing contracts, but it's rumoured that Bright's departure may delay any decisions for another couple of months at least. Agencies will clearly be keeping a close eye on who BA identifies as a replacement.

The Swinton advertising pitch is slowly edging towards the finish line. The three shortlisted agencies - Beattie McGuinness Bungay, Beta and Isobel - are now due to hold final meetings with the insurance company at the beginning of March, with a result due soon after.

Nissan has reignited the review of its direct data account. The business, which is currently handled by Tullo Marshall Warren, went up for pitch in July last year through Creative Brief. After being put on hold temporarily, Nissan has finally invited agencies to pitch for the account and held meetings last week.

DFS has shortlisted the media shops OMD, Carat, Mindshare and the incumbents, Brilliant Media and MediaCom, to pitch for its £92 million account. The furniture retailer has scheduled presentations in a fortnight's time.

PHD, OMD, MEC and Starcom are all waiting to hear back from the online matchmaking service eHarmony after presentations were held over the past fortnight. They'll have to hold their cupid bows for a while yet, though: the marketing chief is on holiday and there won't be a decision until he returns next month.