Pitch update

It's crunch time on the Merck and Virgin Media advertising pitches, while the Carnival Cruises review is also making progress. Meanwhile OMD has pulled out of two media reviews.

It's crunch time on the Virgin Media pitch
It's crunch time on the Virgin Media pitch

Agencies shortlisted for the £28 million Gocompare.com media review include the incumbent, MEC, UM London, Carat and Starcom. OMD UK, which was also shortlisted, is believed to have withdrawn from the proceedings. And this might prove to be a pattern with OMD. Santander had shortlisted the incumbent, Carat, and OMD to pitch for its £27 million media account but word on the street suggests that OMD has pulled out, leaving just the incumbent to thrash out terms.

Three agencies have now been shortlisted for the AS Watson/Superdrug media review covering the UK, Belgium and the Netherlands. The incumbents, ZenithOptimedia and Mindshare, will face off against Initiative.

Merck, the healthcare brand, has cut the shortlist for its global advertising review down to two. Deutsch and Saatchi & Saatchi have been eliminated from the running, leaving Publicis and Grey to battle it out for the $50 million account.

With a mystery trip to Richard Branson's house in Oxfordshire and several creative and strategic tissue meetings out of the way, the agencies vying for Virgin Media's £36 million booty are now gearing up for the big one. The final pitch takes place on 9 November and, as Virgin Media needs an agency to be in place for early next year, the decision is expected to be fairly swift.

Shops lining up for Carnival Cruises will receive an all-agency briefing on Friday. The promise of a pre-Christmas trip to Miami for the pitch is an extra incentive.

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