Addison Lee hails new agency after parting ways with Burson Cohn & Wolfe

Minicab company Addison Lee has handed its public affairs and corporate comms account to FTI after more than three years with Burson-Marsteller and latterly Burson Cohn & Wolfe, PRWeek has learned.

FTI was appointed after a competitive, multi-agency pitch. PRWeek understands Burson Cohn & Wolfe was invited to re-pitch but declined to do so.

It follows the departure of ex-Burson-Marsteller UK CEO Stephen Day to FTI last year amid the merger of Burson with WPP stablemate Cohn & Wolfe. Day was MD and chair of UK Public Affairs at Burson-Marsteller when it won the brief in 2015.

The appointment also follows a period of change at Addison Lee, which in recent years has focused on expanding outside its London heartland, having made its US debut in 2016. In 2018, the firm was selected to lead a £15m UK government-backed consortium to launch self-driving passenger services in London by 2021.

Public policy challenges have remained. In December, Transport for London ruled that private hire vehicles including those run by Addison Lee would no longer be exempt from the Congestion Charge. The group has also faced increased competition from Uber and other ride-sharing apps.

Last year the firm, which is owned by private equity investor The Carlyle Group, sought a £300m re-financing.

Addison Lee’s consumer and b2b comms was previously handled by W, and before that by Ogilvy PR. It was put out to tender around two years ago but the work was moved in-house soon after.

Addison Lee confirmed FTI’s appointment as its new corporate and public affairs agency. FTI and Burson Cohn & Wolfe both declined to comment.

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