Asda and Camelot narrow down agency lists – but will it be all about money in the end?

I see from Campaign that there’s some grey smoke about two big forthcoming pitches: Asda and Camelot. Saatchi & Saatchi is defending Asda, AMV BBDO Camelot.

Among those invited to “chemistry” meetings with Asda is AMV, which lost Sainsbury’s to Wieden+Kennedy at the end of 2016. An agency could hardly know more about supermarkets than AMV which handled Sainsbury’s for the best part of 40 years. Saatchi has done well on Asda too though (below).

This seems to be a procurement number, as most big pitches are these days. Asda has struggled in the UK recently as has owner Walmart in the US where its ambitious and expensive online efforts are taking a hammering from Amazon.

Camelot has shortlisted five agencies: AMV, adam&eveDDB, Grey London, VCCP and WCRS. It’s tempting to see this as a shoot-out between the two Omnicom rivals AMV and A&E but Grey and VCCP (a veritable new business machine) are formidable too and WCRS is still among the very the best at old-style TV advertising, instanced by its work for Warburtons. Which is what Camelot, battered by competition from new-style lotteries and other ways of losing your money, arguably needs.

A&E, which won every pitch going a couple of years ago, recently lost out to MullenLowe’s Spanish agency Lola for Unilever’s PG Tips, which raised a few eyebrows.

We also note that agency matchmaker Oystercatchers, now owned by Marketing Week publisher Centaur Media, is trying to streamline the ever-lengthening pitch process with a number of changes, including dropping chemistry meetings where it can. Not quite sure what a chemistry meeting is supposed to achieve. Even more mysterious are “tissue” meetings which once seemed to be on the agenda. Does it mean everybody sits down and has a good cry? Sir John Hegarty was famously dismissive of them.

Probably only a matter of time before everybody just submits sealed bids and the whole thing is over in a day.

This is an updated version of an earlier story.

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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.

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