Brazen is sole UK PR shop for UCI

Manchester-based consumer PR agency Brazen is to act as the sole UK PR agency for UCI cinemas, less than a year after its management team split from regional powerhouse Mason Williams to form the new agency.

Brazen owner and managing director Nina Wheeler said the agency had won the six-figure account after a four-way pitch thought to have included NP (formerly Northern Profile), Rocket PR and Mason Williams.

The appointment of a single agency marks a change in strategy for UCI, which had previously used a roster of separate agencies - including the latter two on the pitchlist - on a project basis.

It is also a major win for Brazen, which was set up by Wheeler last July, with co-director Emma Thornley, who also left Mason Williams to set up the firm.

The success of films such as Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone and Lord of the Rings have propelled cinema audiences - once in decline - to their highest for 30 years.

The challenge for Brazen is to make UCI stand out from its competitors - particularly as it introduces new luxury cinemas with more spacious seating and bar facilities.

As well as day-to-day media relations and crisis management, Brazen is to launch campaigns on groups such as students and families.

Cinemas have traditionally held most appeal for the 18-to-24 age group but, according to Wheeler, it has proved harder to entice older customers.

A six-strong team at Brazen will deal with the account, reporting to UCI comms manager Vicki Locke and marketing director Janet Smith.

UCI - owned by Viacom subsidiary Paramount Pictures and French media giant Vivendi Universal - is the UK's second biggest cinema group behind the market leading Odeon chain, with 39 cinemas in the UK and Ireland.

However, it is the market leader in the multiplex cinema category.

It was reported this week that Vivendi CEO Jean-Marie Messier was looking to sell his company's stake in UCI.

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