LONDON--MasterCard's ongoing global PR review is set to include the payment company's UK corporate mandate, currently handled by Weber Shandwick.
The decision was confirmed by Neil Henderson, the ex-Visa executive who is to oversee the review as MasterCard's new comms head for the UK and Ireland. The six-figure account, said Henderson, is one of the largest pieces of MasterCard PR business in Europe.
Henderson told the Holmes Report that the UK corporate review is part of an overall rethink of MasterCard's public relations activity across Europe, which is being headed by European communications SVP Rose Beaumont.
Weber Shandwick handles the bulk of MasterCard's European PR business, but Henderson said that not every market in the region will undertake a competitive pitch. Germany, for example, where the business is serviced by GolinHarris, is not expected to review agencies.
The European process, in turn, is part of a wider reappraisal of MasterCard's global PR activity, which has largely been aligned with Weber Shandwick for several years. Last week, the company shifted US PR duties to Ketchum, while the review of its Asia-Pacific remit, revealed earlier this year by the Holmes Report, is ongoing.
In the UK, MasterCard has already moved some consumer PR briefs to other agencies. Kaper, for example, has been charged with supporting the company's Priceless brand positioning, while Frank PR handled a Champions League sponsorship project for the brand.
An RFP for the UK corporate mandate has yet to be issued, although it is understood that Henderson has held informal talks with UK agencies.
"Rose Beaumont is looking closely at MasterCard’s communications approach and is keen to bring fresh thinking and ideas to the market," said Henderson.
"It’s an exciting time for our agencies and comms leaders as they are working in a fast moving, competitive environment, and with an increasingly demanding media."
"In the UK we are looking to change direction, continued Henderson, adding that Weber Shandwick is aware of the process and, as incumbent, "will be in the mix."
The UK public affairs brief, also handled by Weber Shandwick, will not be reviewed.
"Ultimately, I would say that Rose has brought me in to have a fresh pair of eyes," explained Henderson. "Rose is looking at the PR on a case-by-case basis."
Henderson arrived at MasterCard this week after joining Visa one year ago. Previously, he worked at GolinHarris and Red Consultancy, prior to which he was a journalist for ITN, BSkyB and BBC News.