New Tesco boss Dave ‘Drastic’ Lewis (left) has called a pitch for Tesco’s whopper media account, variously estimated in the UK at between £100m and £140m. As such it’s one of the biggest although Tesco has, historically, been keen to deal in barter to offload unsold products, as opposed to money.
The incumbent is IPG’s Initiative whose relationship goes back to the days when fellow IPG agency Lowe was Tesco’s creative agency and very close to the top Tesco management.
Obvious contenders would be WPP’s GroupM and Carat. Omnicom’s PHD recently retained the £60m Sainsbury’s account and it’s hard to see Lewis wanting his media account under the same agency umbrella as Sainsbury’s.
Tesco should be a shoe-in for WPP. WPP boss Sir Martin Sorrell has been trying to get his mitts on Tesco for decades, even to the point of lining up a deal to buy one-time creative agency The Red Brick Road. This was confounded by a creative review which saw the business moving to Wieden+Kennedy. Lewis moved it, without a pitch, to BBH earlier this year.
Media is a bit more complicated. WPP’s Maxus and MediaCom pitched, unsuccessfully, for Sainsbury’s. WPP’s Mindshare is one of Unilever’s biggest global media agencies, and therefore well known to former Unilever man Lewis.
But WPP’s GroupM trading operation has been dogged recently by controversy over programmatic trading; in particular how much it keeps from any transaction. It has recently lost out in pitches for the UK government’s £140m ad business, £50m Dixons Carphone and £60m Sainsbury’s. Last year it also lost its UK Nestle business.
So it’s an interesting one. Initiative may confound the odds by retaining the account, of course. But this is the UK’s big media agency punch-up of 2015.