Pitch Update: Three top agencies battle for Virgin Atlantic and Holidays

Virgin Atlantic: previously worked with AMV BBDO
Virgin Atlantic: previously worked with AMV BBDO

Plus, Five go Pitching in Doncaster.


Three agencies from the top of the pack are competing for the combined Virgin Atlantic and Holidays creative account in a process being handled by Creativebrief. They are Mother and Uncommon Creative Studio – both of which achieved a rare score of 9 in Campaign’s School Reports this month – and Lucky Generals, which scored an impressive 8. The review was called after the brands parted ways with former agency Abbott Mead Vickers BBDO following a year in which the airline’s survival was in question.

Given the ongoing pandemic, LNER passengers might have missed out on some welcome expats on the train to Doncaster on Thursday and Friday last week as the five agencies in contention for the DFS ad account made their way to pitch for the business. Campaign assumes some of those in contention might have opted to drive this time. Waiting on their DFS sofas (ahem) for the result are executives from Bartle Bogle Hegarty, Publicis.Poke, VCCP and Pablo who are hoping to snare the business from the incumbent Krow (whose leaders presumably have entire houses of DFS products after 10 years with the client). AAR is assisting the process.

The Crown Commercial Service has extended the deadline for bid submissions for Campaign Solutions 2, the new government agency framework, to midday on 26 April. The original deadline was 21 April. Creative agencies are competing for 12 spots in Lot 1 of the framework – end-to-end campaign solutions – down from 26 in the current set-up, though bids can come from consortia of agencies. 

Channel 4’s upcoming media review will formally launch later this month, Campaign understands. It is only the second time the broadcaster has reviewed its account in 39 years and OMD UK, the incumbent since 1982, is being invited to repitch. IDComms is assisting Channel 4 with the review.


The British Heart Foundation has called a media review. The charity has asked PHD, The Kite Factory and MediaCom to respond to its request for proposal and said it was not inviting any other agencies to take part. It currently works with the first two of these agencies, meaning WPP's MediaCom is the only non-incumbent being considered. The lead media agency, which will be appointed in May 2021, will support the delivery of BHF's fundraising and brand marketing strategies. The Aperto Partnership is assisting BHF with the review.


Three, the mobile operator, is setting up an in-house agency as part of an effort to “re-energise” the brand. Three currently works with Wonderhood Studios on advertising and the agency is supporting Three in this process. Work produced in-house will “complement” Wonderhood’s activity. Three is working with consultancy WDC to develop the structure of the in-house offering and recruit talent.


VMLY&R London has retained the Department for Transport account after a competitive pitch. The reappointment will see the WPP shop as strategic and creative agency of record for the DoT and its sub-brands, which include Think! and “It’s everyone’s journey”, as well as wider policy initiatives when required. The pitch, which took place over two months, focused on reducing the use of handheld mobile phones at the wheel and is expected to be a campaign priority for 2021. Predecessor agency Y&R London first won the business in 2017.

Following a four-way competitive tender process, VCCP Media has retained De Montfort University’s account for all media planning and buying services globally. The new contract will last four years.

VCCP Blue has won an integrated account from kids’ audio player brand Tonies. The agency will be leading creative and strategies duties, building a new strategic brand positioning and overseeing creative communications and digital and social media channels. There is no incumbent; the brand has previously handled the work in-house.

M3 has been appointed following a competitive pitch by West Midlands Metro, delivering advertising, digital development, internal communications and media buying for the next two years. This follows the tram network's move of ownership from National Express to West Midlands Combined Authority. There was no incumbent agency. 

KFC has appointed Rapp as its retained CRM agency partner in the UK and Ireland, after a review assisted by AAR. The Omnicom agency emerged victorious against Havas and Interpublic's MRM in the final round of the process. It replaces Iris, which won the account in 2017 and did not take part in this review.

Freesat, the free-to-air satellite TV service aimed at former Sky customers that still have a satellite dish on their home, has reached the end of a two-stream agency pitch. After working with AAR on the process, the brand – a joint venture between the BBC and ITV – has appointed TMW Unlimited to its creative account and The Specialist Works to its media account. The incumbent agencies, Mr President (creative), Electric Glue and Roast (both media), all declined to repitch.

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