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Pitch politics: Leo Burnett retains Co-op while Y&R revival continues with Chanel

I see that Leo Burnett has retained the Co-op account in a final pitch against WCRS. Against the odds, no doubt, as in most repitches. Also WCRS is on a roll.

This unusual decision may testify to the influence of the Co-op’s chairman Allan Leighton, brought in to supervise proceedings after the Co-op got itself into a right old tangle – the “crystal methodist” affair – at its bank. Leighton, who used to run Asda with Archie Norman, prides himself on doing things his way. My one and only involvement with an agency pitch (in the days before MAA) was one for the Royal Mail, where Leighton was non-exec chairman but hardly hands-off. Leighton let it be known that he would only read one page of the agency’s proposal, which didn’t stop it producing a bloody great document. It didn’t win the pitch.

Leo Burnett is currently without an ECD, Justin Tindall having departed for M&C Saatchi. This would usually be seen as a rather big disadvantage. So good for the Co-op.

Another agency without an ECD landing what might be a big account is RKCR/Y&R which has won Chanel, in a ‘closed’ WPP pitch. The agency does, of course, have Mark Roalfe as its chairman. This moves from what was a rather short-lived WPP ‘bespoke’ agency called Plus, which won the business back in 2013 and produced a decent campaign featuring old footage of Marilyn Monroe.

Y&R had an annus horribilis in 2015, topped by the loss of its biggest account, Lloyds Bank, to adam&eveDDB. Adam&eve was a breakaway from Y&R in 2008. But latterly the agency seems to have rediscovered its mojo (some of it anyway) under new CEO Jon Sharpe. You suspect that Lloyds, which had never concealed its admiration for the adam&eve-ites, had to go for the agency to move forward.

Sir Martin Sorrell, CEO of Y&R owner WPP, wouldn’t have seen things this way, of course. Neither will he be throwing his hat in the air over Chanel going to Y&R, as the revenue was in WPP anyway. But Y&R has now landed the UK Premier League (against adam&eveDDB) and Chanel in double quick time.

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About Stephen Foster

Stephen is a former editor of Marketing Week and London Evening Standard advertising columnist. He wrote City Republic for Brand Republic and is a partner in communications consultancy The Editorial Partnership.
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