NatWest Group moves £27m media account to Initiative

NatWest: Initiative will work with creative agency The & Partnership
NatWest: Initiative will work with creative agency The & Partnership

Bank splits with Zenith after nine and a half years.

NatWest Group has appointed the Interpublic media agency Initiative to its £27m planning and buying account following a competitive pitch.

ID Comms supported NatWest Group in the review, which kicked off in January. The appointment covers all the group's brands including RBS, NatWest, Coutts and Ulster Bank.

Margaret Jobling, chief marketing officer of NatWest Group since last year, said: “We look forward to working closely with Initiative to deliver our key purpose of helping people, families and businesses to thrive.

“The tender process was extremely competitive and we were blown away by the work and talent throughout our review.” 

Initiative staved off competition from Zenith, which has had the business for nine and a half years, and WPP-backed M/SIX, the sister agency of NatWest’s creative shop The & Partnership, to secure the account.

Jobling added: “I’d like to thank everyone who has taken part in the process and extend our thanks to Zenith who have been a key partner in the growth and new direction of NatWest Group over the past nine years.”

The RBS Group rebranded to NatWest Group last year after doubling its annual profits in 2019 in what chief executive Alison Rose described as “the start of a new era” for the bank. The RBS brand continued to be associated with the bank’s 2008 government bailout.

Chief marketing officer David Wheldon retired from the business in February 2020 after a 37-year career in advertising and marketing. Despite initially saying it would discontinue the position, NatWest Group hired former Centrica CMO Jobling in July, with the same job title – though her responsibilities differ from those of Wheldon.

James Shoreland, chief executive of Initiative, said: “NatWest Group is transforming how people think of their banks. Our strategic approach, fuelled by our people, our data and Acxiom has demonstrated how we can create cultural velocity for their mission to champion the potential of people, families and businesses.” 

The NatWest brand ended its two-decade above-the-line relationship with M&C Saatchi in November 2019 when it hired The & Partnership as its creative agency of record. Earlier that year The & Partnership had won a competitive pitch to handle the brand’s 2020 campaign.

Zenith (then ZenithOptimedia) won the £50m account for RBS Group after a pitch against Manning Gottlieb OMD, Vizeum (now iProspect) and the previous incumbent MediaCom in November 2011. 

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