National Express has picked M/SIX to handle its £10m UK media media planning and buying account for the next three years after a competitive pitch.
M/SIX, which is backed by WPP and buys media through Group M, succeeds Havas Media, the 10-year incumbent, which did not repitch.
The process was run by Hamilton Associates and also involved Carat, Goodstuff Communications and The Kite Factory.
The account is worth £10m, according to sources familiar with the pitch, and signals a substantial increase in spend compared with recent years.
It is thought that about half of the sum will be spent on brand-building campaigns in above-the-line media, with the rest on performance marketing with digital channels.
National Express is understood to want its advertising to deliver strong growth by positioning its coach service as a leading transport option when Covid-19 lockdown restrictions ease, as expected, later this year.
One source familiar with the pitch told Campaign: "[National Express] have a 'coach snobbery' brand challenge. They want to show the experience has vastly improved from what people might have gone through 10 or 15 years ago."
National Express said M/SIX won the pitch becuase it offered "audience-first thinking" and an "experience is believing" strategy that will use social proof to motivate potential customers and to improve the National Express buying experience.
Sean Bailey, the company's UK marketing director, said: “Our team were hugely impressed with the approach proposed by the M/SIX team and we look forward to restarting our UK business with them.”