Big UK supermarket Asda has finally landed at Havas, quite a coup for its newish management tram of Havas Creative global CEO Chris Hirst, London CEO Xavier Rees and CCO Vicki Maguire. Havas beat Publicis Groupe’s Leo Burnett is the final round. The business moves from AMV BBDO.
Asda is now owned by EG Group, a petrol station empire owned by Mohsin and Zuber Issa with US private equity firm TDR Capital who bought it from Walmart for £6.8bn. Walmart still has a minority stake.
Since this deal was announced the Issas have also bought “health” fast food chain Leon and have been sniffing around Cafe Nero, a sign perhaps of what they plan to do with with their extensive bricks and mortar estate. Asda has suffered from the depredations of discounters Aldi and Lidl and a revived Tesco.
Asda’s Eildih MacAskill says: “We are looking for a true partner agency that understands the Asda personality and can bring this to life for our customers and the communities we serve. The Havas team’s strategic thinking and creativity really stood out and we look forward to working with them.”
Let’s hope we do see some decent creativity. Supermarket advertising used to be the showcase for some of the best British advertising but that seems a long time ago now. As for Havas, it’s now an agency to conjure with Rees (ex-adam&eveDDB) and Hirst and Maguire, part of a team who took WPP’s Grey to unheard of dizzy heights for a few years.