Butlin's launches ad agency search ahead of five-year marketing plan

Butlin's: sponsored 'The Voice Kids' on ITV last year
Butlin's: sponsored 'The Voice Kids' on ITV last year

Butlin's, the holiday company, has kicked off an ad agency search ahead of a five-year marketing plan to reposition the brand.

Now, the brand’s incumbent creative agency since 2011, has been invited to repitch in a competitive process run by Haystack.

A request-for-information document has been sent to select agencies but the review is still in its early stages.

Now would not comment on whether it will repitch because, it said, it was subject to a non-disclosure agreement. 

Losing the Butlin’s account would mean Now would say goodbye to its oldest retained client – the agency won the business within months of being founded after Butlin’s split with Mother after just nine months.

While the brand has been relatively quiet in recent years on above-the-line channels compared to family-holiday rival Center Parcs, the creative agency search signals the start of a five-year plan of increased comms activity.

Recent ads for Butlin's have been product-specific in nature, such as promoting a new restaurant in idents for its sponsorship of The Voice Kids on ITV last year.

Jackie Martin, Butlin’s sales and marketing director, has led the brand’s marketing for the last 11 years and during that time has overseen the 82-year-old company’s transition to a web and social-based business. 

"We are on the brink of possibly the most exciting period in our 82-year history," Martin said. "The plans are in place for a five-year journey of defining a new era for Butlin’s, reinventing the British seaside break based solidly on the needs and expectations of current, former and prospective guests. 

"We have an incredible opportunity to reinvigorate and reposition one of Britain’s most iconic and authentic brands – and to help us achieve this, we need to identify an agency partner who shares our passion and can demonstrate they understand our audience, our culture and then work collaboratively to provide stand-out communications."

The business, which has three seaside resorts in Bognor Regis, Minehead and Skegness, was bought by Bourne Leisure in 2000 as part of a £700m acquisition of The Rank Group’s holiday brands. That sale marked the end of a three-year effort by Rank to revive the then struggling brand, which included initiatives such as enclosing large areas in all-weather Skyline Pavilions and asking fashion designer Jeff Banks to revamp the staff's famous Redcoat uniforms. 

Bourne Leisure has pledged to continue investing in the business, which delivered over £200m in turnover last year, and said previous investments had helped Butlin’s emerge from a business in recovery to one that is now growing. This includes a new £38m swimming pool complex that is opening in the next 12 months and is likely to feature in the brand’s upcoming advertising.

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