The review is believed to involve the £90 million account in the UK. It is not known if it includes the €15 million of billings in Ireland.
In terms of billings, more than half of Initiative’s business is tied up in Tesco.
The closed process is moving quickly, with agencies given until the end of March to finish the first submission.
Many of the leading UK media agencies big enough to try to compete for the business have existing client conflicts.
Omnicom’s PHD has just retained the Sainsbury’s account while siblings OMD and Manning Gottlieb OMD handle business for Boots and Waitrose/John Lewis respectively. Elsewhere, Carat works with Asda, WPP’s MEC oversees Morrisons and Mindshare looks after Marks & Spencer.
As the UK’s biggest media agency with no direct conflict, MediaCom is an obvious contender. The MediaCom London joint managing director Danny Donovan worked closely with Tesco during his 16-year tenure at Initiative before joining the agency in January 2011.
The review follows the arrival of Dave Lewis, the former president of personal care at Unilever, as the chief executive of Tesco in September 2014. In January, Tesco moved its creative account out of Wieden & Kennedy and into Bartle Bogle Hegarty without a pitch.
Tesco, Initiative and MediaCom declined to comment.