Santander in bid to grow British corporate brand

Spanish bank issues three-pronged brief for agency to put it at the heart of UK plc.

Santander is seeking a PR agency to help the Spanish banking giant become a more integral part of corporate Britain.

The bank, which rebranded its high street branches of Abbey National, Alliance & Leicester and Bradford & Bingley last year, has launched a three-pronged brief as it aims to improve its credentials in UK corporate banking.

The Spanish banking group has issued a brief to support its UK retail banking, as well as corporate and commercial banking PR and CSR work.

The first two elements of the brief are currently being handled by Citigate Dewe Rogerson, while the CSR element is held by Grayling. All three will be brought together under one account for the first time. The brief is understood to be worth £200,000 per year.

Santander head of media relations Andy Smith explained that the commercial brief reflected the desire of UK CEO Ana Botin - appointed last December - to grow its corporate customer base.

'She's pointing out her strategy for the bank - diversifying away from personal finance and towards commercial and SMEs. She also wants us to put customers at the heart of the organisation and improve our reputation for service,' said Smith.

Smith told PRWeek that this was a 'mandatory review - in line with Santander's global procurement policy, and in no way a reflection of dissatisfaction with the current agency relationships'.

The agency search is being handled by third-party procurement company Aquanina, which is owned by Santander.

The bank is understood to have selected six agencies that will be approached for pitching this week. Smith explained 'bigger agencies' had been shortlisted. 'Our primary concern will be their breadth of ability to service these three briefs,' he said. The bank expects to have an agency in place by the New Year.

TIMELINE

April 2011: Comms director Jennifer Scardino replaces Matthew Young, who followed former CEO Antonio Horta-Osorio to Lloyds Banking Group.

Dec 2010: Ana Botin replaces Horta-Osorio as UK CEO.

Sept 2008: Alliance & Leicester bought by Santander, following the purchase of Abbey in 2004. Bradford & Bingley was then bought by Abbey in 2008.

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