Troubled Publicis to pass up £12m Post Office brief

Latest setback brings agency's losses to £84m following split with MFI and Asda.

Publicis will not repitch for the £12 million Post Office account, having successfully repitched for the business only a year ago.

The Post Office put out a request for information this week, through the Haystack Group. Its decision compounds a terrible six weeks for Publicis, which has seen £84 million-worth of billings leave the agency.

In December, it lost the £28 million MFI account to M&C Saatchi. Then, last week, its £44 million Asda business moved across to its Publicis sister agency, Fallon.

However, Grant Duncan, the chief executive of Publicis, was optimistic about the future of his agency: "The moves now free us up to attack a number of sectors that we have previously been conflicted out of. For example, clothing, retail and financial, to name a few."

In September 2005, the Post Office appointed Gary Hockey-Morley, who joined from Abbey, to replace Simon Carter. Carter had overseen a five-month pitch, after which Publicis was reappointed, but he subsequently quit to join Thomas Cook.

In March last year, the Post Office also appointed Alan Cook to the new role of managing director. He joined the business from National Savings and Investments.

Duncan added: "All the people we have worked with at the Post Office have gone, so we have decided that we don't want to pitch for the second time to a group of people we don't know. For this reason, we have declined to repitch again for the business."

The review will not affect Joshua, which was also reappointed to the account at the same time as Publicis.

The news of the review comes as the Post Office faces public pressure regarding the bad publicity surrounding the Government's plans to close 2,500 branches by 2009 in a bid to cut its subsidy.

Despite this, the Post Office has already begun a revamp of at least 70 per cent of its countrywide branches.

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