Virgin Active splits with Beige in consumer PR rethink

Virgin Active and its UK consumer agency Beige PR have split after five years and the gym operator is in advanced discussions with other agencies about a broader brief.

Virgin Active: Reshaping consumer brief
Virgin Active: Reshaping consumer brief

Virgin Active is halfway through a pitch in which agencies are believed to be competing to handle a consumer-focused brief with corporate and CSR elements.

Beige founder Larry Franks said that his agency declined to repitch due to a new corporate element in the brief.

"As an agency you have to look after your business by understanding what you do, and this wasn’t for us," he added.   

However, it is understood that Pendomer Communications, which currently handles corporate work for Virgin Active, is not affected by the review.

A Virgin Active spokeswoman confirmed that a pitch was taking place but declined to comment further.

The pitch comes shortly after a management shake-up in September in which founder Matthew Bucknall was shifted from CEO to group president, to be replaced by finance director Paul Woolf.

There have also been recent changes within the company’s marcoms set-up.

These saw Brian Waring made chief marketing officer last December and Laura Dalgleish brought in as head of external affairs this August.

Both had formerly worked at Starbucks, with Waring acting as a consultant in between leaving Starbucks in May 2012 and joining Virgin Active.

Virgin Active was launched in 1999 and now has 1.5 million members in 272 clubs in eight different countries.

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