CHI snaps up YouView – did the TalkTalk connection help?

Clenmow Hornby Inge has won one of the UK’s most sought-after new accounts, the new YouView service that will offer viewers a free TV-meets-internet service.

One of the partners in YouView is Charles Dunstone’s TalkTalk broadband operation which also announced today that it was to start competing with Sky, Virgin and BT as a pay-TV operator, using BT’s fibre network for distribution.

And Dunstone is an old buddy of charismatic CHI boss Johnny Hornby with his company being one of the agency’s founding accounts.

The YouView pitch was conducted by client/agency fixer Oystercatchers, so no doubt CHI had to survive a gruelling selection procedure. It beat RKCR/Y&R breakaway Adam & Eve in the final round after BBH, surprisingly, was eliminated. RKCR itself pulled out earlier, possibly on finding out that Adam & Eve was involved. The two agencies are not best of friends and RKCR (and its ultimate boss, Sir Martin Sorrell of WPP) would not have wanted to lose to Adam & Eve.

CHI’s past work on TalkTalk will undoubtedly have been a factor however; it’s nicely understated and makes good use of what we used to call jingles.

As for BBH it has been on a number of shortlists for new business recently and lost all of them. Coming on top of reverses in the US, this is not a happy time for the agency. Maybe it will need to review its policy of not pitching creative work, if it hasn’t done so already.

But it’s definitely good news that YouView (which is a kind of interactive version of Freeview) has got as far as choosing an agency. It has had to fight off ferocious opposition from Sky and Virgin Media which have argued, scarcely credibly, that it will restrict competition and therefore hurt their interests.

Which are that no-one should have a sophisticated TV package unless they fork out for an expensive Sky or Virgin contract. So regulator Ofcom’s decision to allow YouView to go ahead has dealt them both a well-deserved black eye.

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About Stephen Foster

Stephen is a former editor of Marketing Week and London Evening Standard advertising columnist. He wrote City Republic for Brand Republic and is a partner in communications consultancy The Editorial Partnership.