WPP drops out of European Orange contest

WPP has withdrawn from Orange's £200 million pan-European advertising review after failing to resolve a number of client conflict issues.

WPP's pitch team comprised the UK, France and Spain offices of the United network (formerly Red Cell), and Young & Rubicam Europe.

WPP declined to comment on its reasons for pulling out of the pitch.

However, a United insider said a number of WPP's clients were perceived as rivals by France Telecom. These include the media giant BSkyB, which is held by the United London office, and the telecoms brand Virgin Mobile, handled in the UK by the WPP-owned Rainey Kelly Campbell Roalfe/Y&R.

WPP's JWT network also handles Vodafone, which is one of France Telecom's biggest rivals.

The remaining agency networks are Omnicom's TBWA\ Worldwide, a collaboration between DDB and BBDO, Fallon and Publicis Groupe's creative hotshop Marcel, Havas' Euro RSCG and FCB.

Mother, which stands out as the only independent involved in the process, has also retained its place on the list, but is only in the running for the UK creative business. If it is successful, it could end up collaborating with the successful network.

The agency network that wins the business will be responsible for rebranding all of France Telecom's operations as Orange across its European markets.

M&C Saatchi, which handled France Telecom's £16 million Wanadoo business, withdrew from the pitch earlier in the process. The company has plans to scrap the Wanadoo internet services brand and subsume it into the Orange brand.

The France Telecom review kicked off at the tail-end of last year.