VCCP to set up direct operation to expand offering

LONDON - Vallance Carruthers Coleman Priest is launching a below-the-line operation in a bid to offer its clients a through-the-line service.

Ben Stephens, who quit as the managing director of Rapier in June, is expected to run the new agency, which has yet to be named. Chris Whitson, the planning director at Clarke McKay & Walpole, is also thought to be joining.

Stephens, who has also been the managing director for TBWA's Tequila Payne Stacey and TBWA\GGT Direct, recently launched the mail-order company Roxtons.

VCCP launched with O2's £40m above-the-line account and the new direct operation is likely to pursue its £24m below-the-line business, which is handled by Archibald Ingall Stretton.

Other VCCP clients include ING Direct and Hyundai, both of which have significant direct marketing budgets. However, the new agency is also likely to pursue clients independent of its above-the-line sister shop.

VCCP is the latest in a string of creative start-ups to launch direct marketing offshoots; Miles Calcraft Briginshaw Duffy launched its Elvis operation last November, while Clemmow Hornby Inge set up Hall Moore CHI in July.

Both have proved fruitful in revenue terms, with CHI picking up direct marketing billings from its existing Carphone Warehouse and Heineken clients. MCBD's Elvis, meanwhile, has won L'Oreal, P&O Cruises and Benecol.

VCCP declined to comment on the story.

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