£100m Tesco media holds the key to Initiative’s future

Tesco has, indeed, launched a full-scale review of its £100m media account – as we forecast six days ago.

tesco_2161591bThere’s a lot more riding on this than just one (giant) account for long-time incumbent Initiative, which is believed to be repitching. Without Tesco there wouldn’t really be an Initiative and such a move would leave owner Interpublic without a media business of any scale outside the US.

A year ago Microsoft moved IPG’s biggest media account outside the US into Carat. At the time we wondered if IPG might seek a tie-up with Carat in some media markets in the wake of losing Microsoft. That might now be back on the agenda if Tesco moves. It’s hard to think of any indie media agencies IPG could buy to revitalise its media operation.

The account may stay at Initiative of course. Tesco CEO Dave Lewis is his own man and if he thinks Initiative is the best agency for the job he’ll reappoint them, regardless of popularity with rivals. Lewis also seems no fan of expensive intermediaries. Tesco’s creative account was switched from Wieden+Kennedy to BBH without a pitch.

WPP’s Maxus and MediaCom have just spent months pitching for Sainsbury’s, to no avail as the business stayed with Omnicom’s PHD. WPP’s involvement probably depends on Lewis’ feelings about the organisation. Some top execs are fans, others not.

But there are other contenders too. Carat, of course, and BBH’s two media siblings – ZenithOptimedia (why don’t they go back to calling it Zenith?) and Starcom – within Publicis Groupe.

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