Did Grey’s Irish campaign play key role in persuading £47m Vodafone to dump BBH for WPP?

WPP has had its tanks parked on Bartle Bogle Hegarty’s lawn (the one displaying its £47m Vodafone UK client) since JWT lost the business in 2006 and BBH lost its global brief last year.

And in May this year WPP-owned Grey London produced a more than half-decent campaign for Vodafone in Ireland, something Vodafone has struggled to achieve with any agency in any market.

A test run then, as we suggested at the time.

Now Vodafone has announced that it’s dropping BBH and moving the business to a WPP agency, subject to a pitch. It’s not saying which agencies will be asked to pitch yet but it would be a major surprise (and wholly illogical) if Grey wasn’t one of them.

Vodafone says it decided to quit BBH for ‘supply chain reasons,’ which is a new one. Did BBH forget to order a bike? It can console itself with a slew of recent UK account wins including Waitrose, Sol and Wonderbra.

As well as Grey (presumably), JWT and Ogilvy & Mather (which, like JWT, handles Vodafone in other parts of the world) the list is likely to include RKCR/Y&R. It will be interesting to see if 49 per cent owned CHI, which handles Carphone Warehouse and TalkTalk, is considered. CHI seems to be in WPP CEO Sir Martin Sorrell’s good books at the moment as it was chosen to contest (unsuccessfully) $300m Burger King in the US recently, much to the astonishment of the Americans.

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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.