C&W lands O2 account after Orange split

Mobile phone network O2 has appointed Cohn & Wolfe to handle corporate, B2B and tech PR.

C&W formerly handled consumer PR for rival network Orange, but the agency this week said it resigned that account – now subject to a five-way pitch (PRWeek, 3 October) – to land the O2 contract.

Orange UK head of PR, sponsorship and events Niamh Byrne said Orange had reached an ‘amicable agreement’ to part with the agency, which, she claimed, had ‘not really handled strategic work for six months’.

O2 head of comms Glenn Manoff said: ‘Cohn & Wolfe resigned the Orange account without any guarantee [of business] from us.’

C&W beat Lexis PR and Nelson Bostock Communications to win the account, which is understood to have fees of around £350,000. It will be O2’s first agency to represent it on corporate PR.

C&W effectively replaces Midnight Communications, which was hired in September last year to handle B2B and tech PR (PRWeek, 13 September 2002).

Jackie Cooper PR, O2’s retained consumer agency, is unaffected by the hire, although Manoff said C&W could also handle some consumer PR, and that O2 was seeking a ‘more flexible’ approach to its use of agencies.

However, Manoff stressed that Jackie Cooper might do corporate and B2B work.

Manoff denied the move was a reflection on Midnight, saying: ‘Midnight was in step with the business, but the business now wants to get more aggressive on B2B’.

He added: ‘We have been less prominent as a B2B brand, and more prominent in consumer’.

C&W digital director Ginni Arnold said the agency team would promote devices such as the xda personal digital assistant and its BlackBerry mobile email device .

An immediate task for the agency is to promote O2’s transmission of video clips of the Rugby World Cup, which starts today (Friday).

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