O2 pitches UK PR job as JCPR wins Europe

Communications giant mmO2 is understood to have handed Jackie Cooper PR responsibility for its Europe-wide consumer launch, as its O2 mobile phone brand prepares to pitch its UK PR work.

William Ostrom, head of corporate communications for the division, which announced that it is to rebrand from BTCellnet in September last year, said that the operator is to repitch its entire PR handling following the launch of the new brand later in the spring.

MacLaurin and Fishburn Hedges are currently retained for consumer and business PR work respectively. Ostrom said the firm is looking to consolidate PR into one agency.

It is understood that both current agencies will take part in the pitch.

Last year, BTCellnet spent around £1.6m on UK PR, but it is anticipated that due to the drop in growth of the mobile phone sector, the budget will be cut by 50 per cent, with the move to a sole agency part of an attempt to save on the budget.

Ostrom said the firm was satisfied with the work both agencies had undertaken, and had thus invited them to repitch alongside other unnamed firms.

He added that the chosen agency would be given scope to come up with a PR plan, and that PR would play 'a bigger role' in the overall marketing and communications work undertaken by the firm.

Meanwhile, it is understood that consumer specialist JCPR is to co-ordinate European activity surrounding the launch of the mmO2 brand, the umbrella company that encompasses the mobile phone operations such as the former BTCellnet and internet operator Genie.

It is understood the agency is concluding the final details of a contract to run the account. The timing of the rebranding remains uncertain, with no-one in the firm willing to specify a launch date for the brands.

In October last year, mmO2 began a comms review that led to the appointment of JCPR (PRWeek, 19 October 2001). It then put its public affairs work out to tender in February (PRWeek, 8 February).

mmO2 was formed when services including BTCellnet, German mobile telecom operator Viag Interkom and Dutch firm Telfort were demerged from their former parent British Telecom last November.

All of the subsidiary brands will adopt the O2 nametag and branding later this year.

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