The agency has held the account for three years but was this month placed on alert as the firm decided it would hold a competitive pitch process.
At the same time, Fishburn is understood to be parting company with Sainsbury’s – another key public affairs client, which put its account out to pitch late last year (PRWeek, 28 November 2008).
The supermarket chain initially shortlisted Fishburn but insiders said Sainsbury’s was now deciding between two other rival agencies.
The Aviva pitch process will be led jointly by Tracey Crouch, Aviva’s head of UK public affairs, and Ian Beggs, the firm’s head of European and international public affairs.
In a statement, Crouch said: ‘Aviva is reviewing its UK and EU political consultancy support, partly for good governance and partly to reflect the changing needs of the business. Incumbent agencies, London-based Fishburn Hedges, and Brussels-based GPlus Europe... are repitching.’
The developments pile the pressure on the agency’s lobbying practice, coming in the wake of other account losses.
Last year, Fishburn lost its wide-ranging corporate comms and public affairs retainer with Starbucks when the coffee giant handed its global PR account to Edelman (PRWeek, 17 October 2008).
Some months later Fishburn parted company with the Carbon Trust, having previously worked on stakeholder relations on a project basis (PRWeek, 28 November 2008).
However, the agency’s public affairs practice was recently bolstered by one major account win when it snatched Weber Shandwick’s lucrative Nestlé business (PRWeek,12 December, 2008). The confectioner moved its six-figure brief to Fishburn in January 2009, following a lengthy pitch process.
Fishburn is also understood to have recently picked up substantial public affairs briefs with technology services company EDS and the Royal Academy of Engineering.
Fishburn Hedges public affairs MD Lucy Burns said: ‘Our public affairs continues to grow, with significant new income won in the second half of last year from several new clients. Of course, client requirements change over time and some relationships come to a natural end, as others begin afresh.’