Halifax lines up three for intriguing £25m Christmas creative ad pitch

Christmas wouldn’t be Christmas in the UK without some uncaring client launching a big pitch and this year it’s the turn of the Halifax, the bank that was bailed out and bought by Lloyds at the peak of the banking crisis in 2008.

According to Campaign Halifax has asked AMV BBDO, RKCR/Y&R and hot new agency of the moment Adam & Eve to pitch for its £25m account early in the new year, which means burning the midnight oil over Christmas.

But £25m (media budget admittedly) is a lot of dosh and Halifax historically has made a lot of commercials so the creative agency fee should reflect that.

And it’s an interesting shortlist. AMV BBDO is the home of choice for many of the UK’s big brands including financial services outfits Aviva and Sainsburys Bank, who have presumably agreed that it can pitch for Halifax.

RKCR/Y&R handles Halifax owner Lloyds and is also enjoying something of a hot streak at the moment so maybe Paddy Power would make it the narrow favourite.

Adam & Eve is a breakway from RKCR, one that annoyed WPP’s Sir Martin Sorrell so much that he successfully sued the fledgling agency for the best part part of £1m because the founders had broken the terms of their ‘gardening leave.’ In the recent past RKCR has refused to dignify Adam & Eve by pitching against it, but £25m is a lot of dignity.

There’s another agency worth mentioning in this context, former Halifax incumbent Delaney Lund Knox Warren (DLKW). This was bought for a chunky £28m by Interpublic’s Lowe Worldwide from Don Elgie’s Creston Group a few months ago.

It’s inconceivable that the accident-prone network would have coughed up so much if it had expected Halifax to walk.

There’s also the issue for the new agency that newly-appointed Lloyds CEO Antonio Horta-Osorio starts his new job next March. What if he doesn’t like the agency choice? If any of the pitching agencies find a smooth-looking Spanish bloke hovering around the presentation room they’d better not assume he’s doing the coffee.

And what will Halifax go for? DLKW’s work was noisy and brash, most famously the campaign featuring singing member of staff Howard and concluding with some true toe-curlers set in ‘Halifax FM.’ supposedly the bank’s own radio station.

RKCR’s work for Lloyds is fey, although stylish, by comparison. Adam & Eve has won many kudos for its John Lewis work, which also shows that it can handle big companies and accounts. AMV BBDO is the proverbial safe pair of hands.

Too close to call really.

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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.