Can JWT – in the last two for £100m Asda – finally land a big UK supermarket for WPP?

Well it must have a decent chance (according to my calculator it’s about 50 per cent) but it finds itself up against Chime’s VCCP, which has made a name for itself recently with hard-selling advertising, the sort that retailers love.

JWT pitched for Tesco last year (its efforts weren’t helped, according to sources, by WPP boss Sir Martin Sorrell dropping in from a great height – no jokes please) and, more recently, Morrisons, which decided to stay with DLKW Lowe.

VCCP also pitched for Tesco and was many pundits’ favourite to win it but Wieden+Kennedy triumphed instead.

Incumbent Saatchi & Saatchi also pitched but struck out, bringing to an end to a two decades-long relationship with Publicis Groupe agencies. Publicis handled the account more or less from the inception of Asda (the one-time Associated Dairies company ‘oop north) as a big supermarket player.

The account stuck with one-time Publicis boss Rick Bendel who then went on to be marketing boss of Asda and is still floating around in the upper regions of owner Walmart, as far as I know. But times clearly change.

JWT London never exactly struck you as a retail agency, you do wonder if WPP would be better off putting forward Ogilvy (the ultimate machine agency) or Grey for these accounts. RKCR/Y&R handles Marks & Spencer although that could change with the departure of long-serving marketing boss Steve Sharp.

But JWT presses on, and it would be a great morale builder for the agency, the one SMS bought all those years ago to propel WPP into the big time, if it could land this one.

VCCP, though, is a formidable competitor. Bought by Tim Bell’s Chime a decade ago for what seemed a very toppy £18m it has confounded the sceptics by going from strength to strength.

It made its name by producing the meerkats for Comparethemarket.com, despite a spell when all its ads seemed to be selling cuddly toys but I guess that wasn’t its fault. Its new Comparethemarket campaign is supposed to feature Cotswold temptress Liz Hurley, although there’s no physical evidence in the TV ads.

It won, and held, Easyjet amid some controversy and is responsible for the quite dreadful Bet Victor campaign featuring cross-dressing idiot Maurice, which no doubts scores heavily in tracking surveys.

It’s like a new version of hard-selling Masius or Allen Brady & Marsh, with a creative twist. Which isn’t, actually, a bad place to be.

Who would Bet Victor’s Victor Chandler put his money on?

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advertising Asda JWT publicis saatchi & saatchi Sir Martin Sorrell Tesco vccp WPP

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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