KFC lines up Wieden and FCB Inferno to challenge BBH – but it’s Mother wot won it

One of the more interesting UK pitches grinding through the gears is KFC which has been at BBH for 15 years. BBH is repitching.

Up against it are Wieden+Kennedy, which handles KFC in the US, which is apparently pleased by Wieden’s efforts which feature a seemingly never-ending stream of different Colonel Sanders, and FCB inferno. and, we learn, belatedly, Mother.

It doesn’t seem too likely that KFC in the UK wants to to go the full-on Colonel Sanders route – the old boy has never featured very prominently here – although it might (he’s the V/O in this BBH effort). It seems the “finger licking good” has to stay though, rather like McDonald’s “I’m lovin’ It.”

FCB Inferno, currently winning a new round of plaudits for its ‘This Girl Can’ campaign for Sport England is an interesting choice. Inferno was an “integrated” agency before it was bought by FCB but has shown it can do the high profile stuff too. KFC, like McD, is a good old-fashioned ad account that needs a big impact on the box as well as digital this-and-that.

BBH has had a mixed new business record in recent years having undergone a number of management changes including the departure of John Hegarty and a reduced role for Nigel Bogle. The BBH of old wouldn’t have repitched for KFC after 15 years. It’s also coping with a repitch for British Airways which would also, I’d have thought, have been shown the door by the ancien regime.

So (it was) an interesting one.

But now we learn that Mother has won out, a timely win for the agency (our Agency of the Year in 2016) which missed out on Sainsbury’s last year (which went to W+K) and recently lost Walgreens Boots Alliance to a WPP team.

Mother has been on the back foot to a degree for the past few years as, among other things, it bought out departed founder partner Stef Calcraft’s considerable shareholding. Former Fallon UK partner and, latterly, Lowe global boss Michael Wall joined as worldwide CEO last year with a brief to get the once ground-breaking agency motoring again. Mother is as noted for its mostly highly successful entrepreneurial initiatives as its advertising.

If Wall can form a strong team with founder partner Robert Savile then the fiercely independent Mother could just put independent UK agencies back on the big global map.

This is an updated version of an earlier story.

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