Vodafone picks Ogilvy & Mather for ad account, completes WPP ad agency set after Grey switch

Vodafone has picked Ogilvy & Mather London to replace Grey London as its lead advertising agency in the UK, meaning it will have worked with all of WPP’s main creative agency networks since 2002.

The agency will become the lead in the UK part of Team Red, the global division of WPP created to handle the telecommunication’s giant’s ad business. Consequently, it will literally work alongside MEC, which won Vodafone’s media business last year, from WPP’s offices at Sea Containers on London’s South Bank.

Both Ogilvy & Mather and Grey declined to comment on the switch, though a separate source confirmed Vodafone had moved the account without a pitch, a move made easier following BT’s decision to split with OgilvyOne after 15 years last October.

Bilge Ciftci, head of brand at Vodafone UK, made the appointment in her first major mark on the brand's strategy since she moved from the telecommunication’s business in Turkey last year. Like Danielle Crook and Daryl Fielding before her, Ciftci decided change was needed, despite Vodafone enjoying strong brand recognition across the country, as seen by its 11-year reign as the UK’s most valuable brand, according to BrandZ.

For all its ability to stay top of mind among consumers, the business is not without its issues; that Vodafone has pushed the account across four agencies - BBH, Rainey Kelly Campbell Roalfe/Y&R, Grey and now Ogilvy & Mather - in five years is testament to the challenge at hand at a business that has seen its grip on the UK market slip over the last decade. It’s a challenge that has always been able to court some of the industry’s most high-profile marketers; from the departure of Vodafone UK’s head of brand and marketing Dominic Chambers in 2008, to the arrival Danielle Crook a year later, or the exit of her replacement and former Kraft marketer Daryl Fielding in 2013, each has had to contend with a mobile market undergoing rapid change and restructures at Vodafone at a pan-European and global level.

Ciftci and Ogilvy will likely play a role in the company’s attempt to kickstart its business through its move into the fixed line market and its pay-TV bow, which was due last November.

For Grey, which ended its creative run with Vodafone's festive push last month, its work on the brand is not actually over. The agency will continue working on the telecommunications firm’s digital strategy under its revamped direct marketing and CRM division Grey Response, which will see it ramp up is programmatic activity. Additionally, Grey London will continue to work with Vodafone Ireland, The Drum understands.