Morrisons review provides rare opportunity for London’s grocer-free agency elite

It’s always fun to speculate who might be lining up for a big account on the loose and Morrisons is now one such, having decided to quit DLKW Lowe. Morrisons is reportedly worth £70m, which probably means a lot of work on a pretty tight fee.

But maybe it was the other way round, Lowe’s Richard Warren observing: “DLKW Lowe has spent the last nine years partnering with Morrisons, supporting their rise to fourth biggest national supermarket, and most recently supporting them through tough market challenges and management changes. Morrisons has changed a lot this year and it is clear we’re not the right agency for them going forward. We can confirm we have decided not to repitch.”

Morrisons reviewed creative just three years ago, pitting Lowe against adam&eveDDB and M&C Saatchi. It’s missed the boat with A&E, which won Waitrose at the start of the year although DDB’s Tribal won Morrisons’ digital work, probably the biggest part of the account. M&C will surely enter the lists again, keener than ever (barely possible, we recognise) having lost Dixons to AMV BBDO.

Morrisons has a new CEO in former Tesco executive David Potts who has cleared out most of the management, sold the convenience store network and ordered the stores to be cleaned, which doesn’t say much for the previous regime. As a one-time Tesco-ite it’s probably the case that Potts isn’t overly impressed by creative agencies as a species, although now he needs one. He does still have production agency Network, though, which will make life easier.

The end of October seems a strange time for a big retailer to change agencies, given that Christmas is looming. But Morrisons’ Christmnas ad is probably already in the can.

So who will pitch? Let’s save Potts a consultant fee. M&C obviously, CHI perhaps which has come close to a big grocer a few times, latterly with Waitrose. CHI handles Argos so it knows the ropes. Wieden+Kennedy? W+K handled Tesco for three pretty miserable years until it moved to BBH earlier this year. A few months ago the answer from the agency would probably have been ‘never again’ but time’s a healer and business is business.

WPP is pretty light on retailers with just Debenhams at JWT and Marks & Spencer at RKCR/Y&R. A big grocer, Tesco preferably, has been on its wish list for years. Tesco is probably at BBH for the duration, the appointment being made by CEO Dave Lewis, so is there a’Team Morrisons’ in the offing? Ah, but there’s Tesco again. WPP’s MediaCom won Tesco’s media account earlier this year so that’s an issue. AMV BBDO handles Sainsbury’s, McCann Manchester Aldi, TBWA Lidl and VCCP Asda, which left Saatchi & Saatchi.

So there we are: M&C Saatchi, CHI and W+K. And, maybe, Saatchi & Saatchi.

Potts, of course, will doubtless have other ideas. He has Network to do the heavy lifting so could decide to try one of the newbies on the London scene like Droga5 or Lucky Generals. Or maybe the revitalised FCB/Inferno. Decisions, decisions..

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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.