Whitbread to review £12m media brief

Restaurant giant kicks off pitch ahead of Premier Travel Inn's £9m rebrand.

Whitbread is reviewing its £12 million media planning and buying account, two years after appointing Starcom to the consolidated brief.

Agencies have been approached to pitch for the business, which includes the Premier Travel Inn, Beefeater, Brewers Fayre and Costa Coffee brands.

Starcom is not expected to take part in the pitch process, and agency sources suggest there is a possibility that the business will be split, with the hotels account separated from the restaurant brands.

The company has separate marketing departments for each of its brands, but a move to split the business would reverse the decision to consolidate its roster two years ago.

Whitbread is keen to explore its options ahead of a significant increase in activity. The company currently spends £3 million on UK media, but is backing the planned relaunch of Premier Travel Inn as Premier Inn with a £9 million spend.

The company is also holding a pitch to find an agency to handle creative for the relaunch (Campaign, 10 August). The chain, which was then called Premier Lodge, was bought by Whitbread in 2004. Inferno handles integrated activity for Premier Travel Inn.

Recent Whitbread advertising activity includes an integrated campaign for Beefeater to promote summer eating at the restaurants.

After winning the business in 2005, Starcom lost the TGI Friday chunk of the account to Initiative, following Whitbread's sale of the company.

Whitbread has also disposed of the David Lloyd Leisure business to reduce its debt levels and to focus on hotels, restaurants and coffee shops.