Pitch update

It wasn't the most optimistic of starts for new-business directors: adland's 2008 kicked off with news of two of its most high-profile marketing chiefs vacating their positions.

Yes, Lowe's Judy Mitchem and Saatchi & Saatchi's Adam Kirby both left their respective posts without new jobs in place. It shows the constant pressure, and management scrutiny, under which new-business executives operate.

And if there is any truth in what the economic doomsayers are saying, new business is going to be a difficult market this year. If advertisers, as some predict, rein in spends, don't expect briefs from new advertisers and spin-off brands.

But it's not all doom and gloom. There are plenty of opportunities in online communications, so it's definitely time to polish up web credentials, no matter what kind of agency you work in (and make sure your reel has next to no TV ads on it). So what kind of account moves can we expect? Some predict that after a relatively quiet direct marketing pitch field in 2007, the sector should enjoy some overdue new-business action.

In terms of brands, there's still lots of talk around Orange. Great work was not enough to keep the above-the-line account at Mother, so will it be enough to keep the digital brief at Poke? Meanwhile, procurement is said to be all over the telecoms giant's online planning and buying, held by i-level. But probably the most burning issue going forward, is if Fallon will be able to produce a hard-working campaign to replace its current hippy-like, feel-good work that seems to be a self-homage to its previous campaigns for Sony Bravia.

Will Honda return to the pitch arena in 2008 following a stymied attempt to review its online communications through Haystack in 2007? Also online, there's speculation mounting around the future of O2's media account.

There's also chatter surrounding the travel companies. After Beattie McGuinness Bungay's Thomson bonanza at the end of last year, pundits are preparing the ground for pitches for both Thomas Cook and Lastminute.com.

And what of the matchmakers? 2007 saw the AAR handle an enviable slice of both the major and minor pitches, but everyone knows the ambitious Suki Thompson's eye has been off the ball as she extricated herself from Haystack to launch a new partnership with Peter Cowie at Oystercatchers. The operation has launched with a bang, handling the Nationwide media pitch.

So the Carbon Trust has decided to call a pitch. VCCP is expected to have to defend its lead status on the account in a pitch against the fellow roster shops Rainey Kelly Campbell Roalfe/Y&R and WCRS.

Despite reports to the contrary, the BA direct marketing pitch is well under way. The airline has held credentials meetings with several undisclosed shops and is expected to reveal a shortlist to pitch for the business later this week. But can the incumbent, Tullo Marshall Warren, hold on to the business after 20 years on the BA roster? It will certainly be waiting with bated breath when the result is revealed later in the year.

In digital, meanwhile, McDonald's has reduced its shortlist to a reported eight agencies, having begun conversations last November as first revealed by Campaign (15 November).

Telegraph Media Group has shortlisted four agencies to pitch for its integrated above- and below-the-line business, but is said to be looking for a fifth after Fallon turned down the opportunity to participate. While Rapier attempts to land the whole account, Murphy Golding Priest and Amp are to pitch as a pair. Archibald Ingall Stretton is also lined up to pitch, but needs an ad agency partner for the task now that Fallon is busy elsewhere.