Asda follows rivals by calling review of £100m ad account

By Ian Darby,, Thursday, 27 June 2013 08:00AM

Asda has become the fifth major supermarket in little over a year to call an advertising review.

Asda: shortlisting agencies ahead of advertising account pitch

Asda: shortlisting agencies ahead of advertising account pitch

Impactful client arrivals

  • Mike Hoban Joined Thomas Cook in September last year and called a review in March. He also called a prolonged review process at his previous employer,
  • Natalie Cowen Appointed at East Coast Mainline in November. An agency review in March was followed by the appointment of Beattie McGuinness Bungay.
  • Kerris Bright Joined Ideal Standard in February 2011 and called an ad review five months later, resulting in the selection of Euro RSCG.
  • David Pemsel Arrived at Guardian News & Media as a “strategic consultant” to oversee an ad review. Bartle Bogle Hegarty won the business and Pemsel the chief commercial officer role.
  • Nigel Gilbert Hired by Virgin Media just months after it appointed DDB. A review was called eight months after his appointment, resulting in the selection of Bartle Bogle Hegarty.

The Walmart-owned retailer this week kick-started the process of reviewing the £100 million account, putting Saatchi & Saatchi, the four-year incumbent, on alert

Agency sources said they had received calls from Asda last Friday to sound out their willingness to pitch for the business. The review has been triggered by a restructure in the Asda marketing department and the arrival of Chris McDonough, the former Molson Coors managing director of brands, as the marketing director

The Asda review remains at an early stage and it is unclear when the supermarket will finalise a shortlist of agencies. Sources said that Asda was not using an intermediary and that its marketing and procurement teams would handle the process directly

Asda’s move follows ad agency reviews in the past 18 months by The Co-operative, Lidl, Morrisons and Tesco as supermarkets jostle in an increasingly tough market

Sales at Asda have been strong in recent months, rising 1.3 per cent in the first quarter of 2013 on the back of a 4.5 per cent increase in 2012. However, market share has remained static at 17.9 per cent while its close competitor Sainsbury’s has increased its own share slightly

Andy Clarke, the Asda chief executive, recently praised its "Every Day Low Prices" initiative, which has been supported by advertising activity from Saatchis. While competing in what Clarke termed a "challenging trading environment", Asda is investing heavily in new stores and the online offering

One senior agency source who has worked on supermarket ad accounts said: "There’s a tectonic shift in that you have got the likes of Asda and Morrisons caught in a pincer where Sainsbury’s and Waitrose, the more upmarket rivals, are becoming more accessible for the weekly shop, while Aldi and Lidl are coming up hard and have got their marketing sorted."

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