O2 UK head of comms Glenn Manoff said it was possible – although unlikely – that more than one agency would be hired for a brief that spans brand PR, sports promotion and music sponsorship.
Manoff described the contract up for grabs as ‘slightly’ smaller than it has formerly been in respect of fees, but said its thrust – to target the ‘high-value end of the youth market’ and position the O2 brand as ‘risk-taking’ and ‘challenging’ – remained ‘consistent’ to that handled by JCPR.
Weber Shandwick will be pitted against Shine Communications, Consolidated Communications, Frank PR and Kazoo Communications for an account likely to be worth around £125,000.
Jackie Cooper PR, which has handled the brief for three years, has declined to repitch.
JCPR co-founder Robert Phillips said: ‘O2 as a brand and company has reached a turning point – we have taken it as far as we can.’
O2 continues to use Cohn & Wolfe to handle its B2B and technology press relations and its work is not under review.
O2 is thought to want to spend around £250,000 on PR agency fees this year, a figure likely to be split evenly between C&W and the new consumer agency.
Pitches for the account will take place within six weeks. The brief will involve the promotion of O2’s sponsorship of Arsenal and the Rugby Football Union, music events and the targeting of gays and ethnic minorities.
In the six months to the end of September last year, O2’s UK customer base grew by ten per cent to 13.9 million.