Creative new business merry-go-round picks up speed

Much agonising in adland about pitches – it was ever thus of course – costing too much, driving agency staff nuts and all the rest of it. But the troops are still girding their loins and going into battle and there are a lot of them around.

Creative pitches seem to get ever more complicated, yards of research being produced which the client often happily takes away. Advertisers seem reluctant to even admit to a pitch let alone an appointment, fearing their competitors will learn that something’s up. NDAs fly about. Soon the results will be delivered to a John Le Carré-style dead letter box on Hampstead Heath.

VCCP is our current Agency of the Year and it’s always to be found around the big pitching tables. It’s now one of the very biggest UK creative agencies by billings despite not having a supermarket account – it had a brief fling with Asda ten years ago I seem to recall.

Now, though, it’s one of three lining up for Sainsbury’s creative alongside Mother and New Commercial Arts. New Commercial Arts should be in the driving seat in one respect as it knows Sainsbury’s well, working on Habitat and Tu. But it’s a relative newbie, less than three years old so the main Sainsbury’s account is a big bite. Mother’s merits are well known although it often seems to get down to the last two and no further. VCCP, well, it’s a machine.

VCCP is also in the frame for new National Lottery operator Allwyn although Alwyn and consultant Ebiquity have been musing about this for months. To win both would put VCCP in an almost dominant position – although these things have a tendency not to last.

John Lewis and sibling Waitrose are looking for a new agencies (or one) as now is online property service Rightmove which is departing Fold7. McCann, newly energised, is the favourite here. Nationwide is looking for a new agency with New Commercial Arts, which resigned Halifax to pitch, the ante-post favourite.

Warburtons (above) has split with House 337, the new(ish) owner of Engine Creative, although there’s some debate when it happened and who took the initiative. It’s said to be working with Billy Faithfull, former Engine CCO. Such relationships can thrive: GoCompare did pretty well with Chris Wilkins and Sian Vickers.

The Premier League, formerly with FCB Inferno, has lined up BBH, Wieden & Kennedy, Havas and Pablo in a review reportedly advised by former FCB exec Frazer Gibney. W+K formerly handled Sainsbury’s (for whom it seemed to do little obviously wrong – apart from lose creative directors.) BBH is finally moving forward after the Bartle Bogle Hegarty/Audi era and clients will have noticed its work for Tesco. Pablo seems to be everywhere.

One account to have found a home is C&C-distributed Italian beer brand Menabrea which has gone to BMB. BMB, like St Luke’s, is good at picking up smaller but interesting brands.

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