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Gala Coral drops VCCP for The Red Brick Road

LONDON - Gambling giant Gala Coral Group has appointed The Red Brick Road on a project basis with a view to appointing the agency long term on its £8m account.

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The appointment follows a month-long process in which incumbent Vallance Curruthers Coleman Priest pitched against Sir Frank Lowe's start-up and a number of undisclosed agencies.

The gambling operator Gala Coral Group put its £5m creative account up for pitch only a year after appointing VCCP.

Kate Howe, marketing director at the Gala Coral Group, oversaw the pitch, which was called through agency search firm The Haystack Group.

Howe said: "We had some impressive meetings, but the one with The Red Brick Road stood out above the rest. Betting and gaming is a complex business and we're not sure it is realistic to expect three or four agencies to do their best work in the short time frame of a pitch. 

"We are also very aware that it's costly for agencies to mount a pitch and it is time consuming for us. We've decided to take the approach of working closely with one agency on a project basis with a view to appointing them long term, as an alternative to a traditional pitch, as we think it gives both parties a chance to get the best possible work. The agency we have chosen is The Red Brick Road."

The account spans consumer brands including Gala Bingo, Gala Online Gaming, Gala Casinos and Eurobet, as well as undisclosed launches.

The review was understood to be driven by last October's merger between Gala Bingo and the bookmaker Coral Eurobet in a deal worth £2.2bn, as the group looks to drive sales growth ahead of a possible initial public offering next year.

Howe joined Gala in 2004, after stints as an ad agency senior executive with posts at Leo Burnett, where she was managing director, and Abbott Mead Vickers BBDO.

Leo Burnett had handled the business since the end of 2001, until VCCP was appointed in July 2005.

Gala is the UK's largest bingo operator and the market leader, with 32m admissions every year and a 40% share of the market. The group operates 166 bingo halls and boasts 6m members.

In August, MediaVest Manchester consolidated the media account for Coral high street bookmakers and the online business for the coral.co.uk, Eurobet online and Telebet business, adding an extra £5m to the agency's billings.

The current advertising campaign for Gala features 'X-Factor' judge Sharon Osbourne.

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