KFC goes full service in the US with Wieden+Kennedy – Accenture under fire over media

KFC in the US is moving its $230million media-planning and buying business to its creative agency Wieden+Kennedy. W+K will now handle media planning and buying (including social and digital) as well as creative and other marketing functions.

This is perhaps the most notable case to date of big clients “re-bundling,” bringing creative and media back under one roof.

In Europe The&Partnership won all of Toyota’s European creative and media a couple of years ago although its media operation, m/SIX, also operates independently and uses GroupM trading deals. WPP owns 49 per cent of T&P.

W+K has run a series of high profile US campaigns for KFC recently, bringing back the famous Colonel Sanders in a number of guises. It also handles media work for a number of other clients including Old Spice, Nike, TurboTax, and Secret.

The business moves from Publicis Groupe’s Spark Foundry, a somewhat mysterious entity that appeared on the scene relatively recently.

Conventional media agencies find themselves under siege from many angles, most recently with the announcement the Accenture Interactive is now offering programmatic media services. This has prompted an outcry in various quarters as Accenture also offers media auditing and pitch services.

Accenture says it wouldn’t offer programmatic media planning and buying and auditing to the same client.

The underlying reality though is that if clients, now exercised about the supposed lack of transparency in media and the effectiveness of many of their digital campaigns, want something they’ll buy it from whomever – whatever specialist agencies think.


The UK agency trade body the IPA (which also represents media agencies too) has weighed in surprisingly strongly on the Accenture development.

The IPA says: The IPA has today expressed great concern in reaction to the announcement that media audit provider Accenture plans to provide Programmatic Media Buying services to advertisers.

Accenture’s intention to broaden its advertising service offering to include media planning and buying services in competition with media agencies and at the same time providing media auditing, evaluation and pitch management services is a direct conflict of interest.

Dismissing claims that the consultancy will operate internal cross departmental confidentiality, the IPA has described Accenture’s new business as incompatible with its legacy role as media auditor.

And director general Paul Bainsfair is quoted thus: “As well as compromising impartiality, no business can legitimately offer competing media services to a market where it has a media auditor’s access to confidential client and agency media data and financial information. In an era where transparency is under the spotlight, this self-evident conflict of interest is unacceptable.”

The IPA are in dialogue with advertiser body ISBA about this development, particularly as the two organisations are exploring a Media Auditor Code of Conduct.

Cages have clearly been rattled. Will that bother Accenture? We’ll see.

This is an updated version of an earlier story.

Back to top button