Virgin Trains calls review

Train operator's advertising, direct marketing and digital accounts up for grabs.

Virgin Trains is gearing up for a review of its advertising, direct marketing and online accounts.

The company has yet to begin contacting agencies, but is expected to post a notice on the OJEC website within the next two weeks.

The biggest portion of the business is the £6 million advertising account handled by Rainey Kelly Campbell Roalfe/Y&R, which the agency has held for more than ten years.

It is the first full pitch the train operator has run since its launch in 1997, when it won the InterCity franchises of the Cross Country and West Coast trainlines.

The digital element of the business has been handled by glue London since 2000. Craik Jones Watson Mitchell Voelkel picked up the DM in the same year after Virgin Trains parted company with HPT Brand Response.

It is unclear if the review will include media duties, which are currently handled by Manning Gottlieb OMD.

The review follows last November's departure of Virgin Trains' sales and marketing director, Craig Inglis, who had been at the company since its launch. Sarah Copley, who has been at the company for six years, replaced him.

Inglis' decision to leave followed the train operator's unsuccessful bid to retain its hold on the InterCity Cross Country franchise in July last year. The business moved to Arriva, leaving Virgin Trains with just the West Country line.

Before this, the company had also attempted to secure the franchise for the East Coast line, which was eventually awarded to National Express. Both failures led to a reduction in the company's marketing budget.

The train operator had been famous for investing in high-profile advertising campaigns, including 2005's "return of the train", created by RKCR/Y&R.

The ad mixed footage from old films, such as Some Like It Hot and The Railway Children, with modern day shots of Virgin's Pendelino train.