Sainsbury’s ad review plot thickens as Lucky Generals and Joint enter the fray

Sainsbury’s is currently reviewing its UK ad account with AMV BBDO, after a 40-year tenure (with a brief interregnum at M&C Saatchi), the first such review for 11 years.

It seems to be casting its net quite widely, at least in terms of the getting-to-know-you ‘chemistry’ meetings with indies Lucky Generals and Joint on the long list along with WPP agencies Grey and CHI (49.9 per cent owned by WPP but increasingly operating as part of the WPP fold).

Grey and CHI, and other WPP shops including Ogilvy, JWT and incumbent RKCR/Y&R, are currently involved in a closed pitch for Marks & Spencer. Which, it might be recalled, also sells food. Sainsbury’s also sells more than a few clothes these days under its Tui label.

One of Sir Martin Sorrell’s key tenets at WPP has been to make the company so big that, for a big client, it’s unavoidable. So account conflicts have to be sorted, usually by the creation of bespoke agencies that, in theory at least, are sheltered by what we used to call ‘Chinese walls’ from the rest of the business. WPP’s MediaCom media agency handles Sainsbury’s great rival Tesco.

Sainsbury’s would be great for Joint (an RKCR/Y&R breakaway which has excelled on TSB and Amazon) or the Generals, currently the hottest shop in London with recent wins including Premier Inn and tea company Taylors of Harrogate. Both agencies include grown-ups who wouldn’t be fazed by handing Sainsbury’s although they’d need a deal with a big production agency.

Still can’t see it moving from AMV though, unless the new marketing regime at Sainsbury’s insist on ridiculous terms of business. Which might direct AMV towards Tesco, currently handled by BBH.

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