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News UK to pump more ad business from Grey into CHI & Partners

News UK is diverting more of its advertising from Grey through its fellow WPP agency CHI & Partners' production arm as it changes its business model following the return of Rebekah Brooks, The Drum understands.

Brooks' return is sparking mass change across the publisher, with the divisive media veteran pushing a more tactical way of promoting The Times, The Sunday Times and The Sun brands under her stewardship. Consequently, News UK is mulling its relationship with Grey and is already calling on CHI & Partners to produce more ads, albeit through the agency’s production outfit The Box.

Billed as a “fast turnaround”, “high volume” shop, The Box represents a very different proposition to how News UK has been working with Grey. It’s understood that nothing has been finalised, with initial talks primarily focused around work for The Sun, which is trying to reach new readers after axing its paywall (30 November).

CHI & Partners’ production arm continued to work with the publisher (then News International) despite its influence on the creative being lessened in 2012 following an internal review at WPP that formed the Team News multi-disciplinary unit. It was here that Grey took the place of CHI & Partners as the advertising lead for the newspapers under the News UK business that replaced News International in the wake of the phone hacking scandal.

And while Grey has produced award-winning work for The Times and The Sunday Times such as the latter’s ‘fat cat’ ads for its ‘Rich List’, there has been much internal change in recent months; not least the return of Brooks as the chief executive of News UK in September and the departure of chief creative officer Nick Stringer. Grey’s deputy executive creative director Dave Monk, who led the account, is also leaving for Publicis London.

The reshuffle is part of wider changes at News UK, spanning its commercial and digital businesses. Brooks’ decision to axe The Sun’s paywall set the tone for the transition when it was announced in September and is to be followed by fundamental changes to how the publisher works with advertisers and a shift in its internal mindset toward monetisation.

Grey declined to comment and News UK did not add any further detail on the move.

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