INTERNATIONAL: Amex holds China PR pitch as comms budget grows

BEIJING: American Express International has put its China PR business up for pitch after a substantial increase in investment into its government relations and PR budget.

Industry sources suggest the decision to beef-up comms spend in China has come from the group's HQ in the US.

Amex is including retained incumbents APCO and Ogilvy PR Worldwide, which handle government affairs and PR respectively, in the pitch.

APCO was known to have handled government affairs for Amex on retainer for the past two years, while Ogilvy also acts as the credit card giant's global agency of record.

According to Amex director of public affairs and comms (East Asia) Susanna Hui, other consultancies vying for the business include Edelman, Fleishman-Hillard Link and Hill & Knowlton Zhonglian PR.

Hui works with regional government affairs director Steven Siqueira, based out of Amex's regional Singapore headquarters, overseeing the PA function for Hong Kong, China, Taiwan and the Philippines. It is still unclear whether the PA and PR functions will remain divided, or consolidated under a single, united brief.

'We're looking for creativity, resources and support from the consultancy we choose - but we haven't decided to split the account until we've gone through the entire (pitch) exercise,' Hui told PRWeek, adding a final decision would be reached by the end of the month.

Consultancies including Edelman and APCO are believed to have completed a combined pitch for both legs of the account, in the hope that Amex will consolidate the business with a single consultancy.

PR activities will include media relations to support individual projects, product launches and brand-building activities, said Hui.

APCO is currently believed to be working for Amex on a project basis within neighbouring markets, including Hong Kong.

Hui confirmed that Ogilvy was also currently working on a project basis for Amex in China.

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