Vodafone has appointed McCann-Erickson WorldGroup to the task of establishing a single global brand for the mobile phone operator.
The win is a blow to the incumbent UK agency, BMP DDB, whose network pitched for the global account against McCann-Erickson WorldGroup and Ogilvy & Mather earlier this month.
Vodafone confirmed that a media pitch for the global branding campaign would take place. Both Universal McCann and OMD, which handles the UK account, would be expected to compete for it. It is understood that Vodafone has already made contacts with other networks regarding the business.
The creative pitch, which grew quickly from a series of credentials meetings, was triggered by Vodafone's concern that its brand was splintering as a result of European expansion.
The company is branded as Mannesmann in Germany, Omnitel in Italy and Europolitan in Sweden.
Vodafone has a distribution deal with the telecom giant Bell in the US, but the initial focus of the branding campaign will be Europe.
The rebranding will most likely take place in two stages, with recently acquired companies being rebranded as Mannesmann Vodafone in Germany and Omnitel Vodafone in Italy, before the final transition to the Vodafone name. Strategic and creative work on the account will be handled from McCann's London office.
Thomas Geitner, Vodafone's executive director, said: 'The agency will have an important role to play in establishing our future global brand, enabling Vodafone to achieve its aim of becoming the world's leading mobile multimedia company.
'After seeing a number of agencies, we selected McCann for the strength of its network and proven track record on campaigns of this type.'
Vodafone stressed that the appointment would not affect its existing local advertising relationships in the different European countries.
'This is a completely new role that is over, above and in addition to our local advertising arrangements,' Corinne Norris, Vodafone's senior communications manager, said. 'We can't speculate on what the campaign will involve, but there is value accumulated in the brands that now operate.'
'We are delighted to have been chosen by Vodafone to assist them,' Don Dillon, the regional director of McCann-Erickson Europe, the Middle East and Africa, said. 'It reaffirms the capability and experience in McCann WorldGroup in building and developing global brands.'