Centrica’s global ad review puts The&Partnership and MediaCom in the spotlight

Centrica, British Gas as was, has joined a long list of companies reviewing its agencies, in this case a wholesale review covering creative, media, CRM, PR and all those other things such companies do these days.

Which puts The&Partnership in particular on alert as Johnny Hornby’s agency has handled British Gas (which remains a Centrica brand) since 2004, an almost unheard-of tenure. WPP’s Ogilvy does some work and its MediaCom handles media. Other brands included are Hive gadgets, Local Heroes, Ireland’s Board Gais and its big Direct Energy business in the US.

Centrica says it wants to “select a marketing communications partner who will support us on our journey of transformation as well as driving creativity and innovation.”

Margaret Jobling was promoted to Centrica CMO last year. ID Comms, best known for its media work, is handling the review.

The&Partnership (CHI & Partners when it first won British Gas) has a formidable record retaining business but a big juicy account like Centrica will attract a number of other contenders. Arthur Sadoun’s Publicis Groupe has made much of its “transformation” capabilities recently while Accenture Interactive’s new-style offer may also feature. Accenture’s consultants will almost certainly figure at Centrica somewhere along the line.

T&P is 49 per cent owned by WPP which may open the door to a WPP-wide offer. T&P also offers media and PR among other services and has an operation in North America.

Energy companies are having a hard time facing consumer distrust and, in the UK, a crackdown on prices. British Gas has been losing customers by the bus load as it’s raised prices although that can hardly be blamed on its advertising which has sustained a consistently perky note.

It will be interesting to see which creative agencies make it on to ID Comms’ pitch list. Helping to choose a creative agency for such a task is relatively new territory for them.

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About Stephen Foster

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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.