Fallon London, Marcel and Euro RSCG are this week celebrating the capture of France Telecom's prized £200 million-plus account.
The win, which follows a six-way pitch, sees the account split between the Publicis Groupe-owned agencies Fallon London and Marcel and Havas' Euro RSCG network.
Fallon and Marcel will handle France Telecom's consumer advertising across Europe. The account includes the Orange UK and France mobile businesses as well as the pan-European Wanadoo internet service provider business and the Amena mobile network in Spain. Both will rebrand as Orange.
Euro RSCG agencies will take responsibility for the telecoms company's business-to-business activities.
The appointments come as a blow to Mother London, which was widely expected to retain the UK business it has held since 2002. Nielsen research shows Orange spent £70 million for the year ending December 2005, a figure that represents half of Mother's £140 million billings.
M&C Saatchi was a further casualty, parting company with its £16 million Wanadoo account in January, when the brand was included in the pan-European review.
France Telecom called its pitch in December 2005, confirming months of speculation. Rumours of the impending review had been rife, following an admission by France Telecom in February 2005 that it was looking to consolidate its advertising.
A protracted agency benchmarking process took place in Paris the following summer.
Agency competition for the £200 million account was fierce. Participants included: CLM BBDO Paris with DDB London and Amsterdam; Tapsas Madrid, an FCB affiliate; Euro RSCG London and BETC Euro RSCG Paris; Fallon London and Marcel; TBWA\Worldwide; Mother; and the WPP agencies Young & Rubicam and United.
Insiders say the review was further complicated by political infighting between the France Telecom and Orange UK clients, with the UK client keen to retain Mother and reluctant to relinquish control of the Orange brand to Paris. Agencies were originally briefed that Mother was likely to hold on to the UK account.
TBWA, whose Paris office is the France Telecom corporate agency of record, emerged as an early frontrunner, while WPP was forced to pull out in late January, following client conflict issues surrounding the network's Virgin Mobile and Vodafone accounts.
Three networks - Publicis, Euro RSCG and TBWA\ Worldwide - made it to the second round of pitching in early February. Insiders say the Publicis chairman, Maurice Levy, played a key role in the successful pitch.
Mother produced several high-profile campaigns for Orange over the past four years (see right). The most acclaimed was its "gold spots" campaign to support its association with cinema.