Agencies on alert as Asda shops around for value

LONDON - Supermarket giant Asda has conducted a series of meetings with marketing services companies, including media, online and direct agencies, to gauge the value of its media spend.

The retailer, which spends £46m on its media account alone, is understood to have approached several media agencies, including Media Planning Group and ZenithOptimedia, last week to address its current media spend.

It is unclear whether this will tempt Richard Hodgson, brand and marketing director at Asda, to kick off a full-scale review of the company's media and marketing arrangements. Incumbent media agency Carat is said to be aware of the approaches.

The initiative follows an internal "grey review", which saw the company -- owned by supermarket chain Wal-Mart -- internally audit all of its agency relationships.

It is not known if creative agencies have been approached regarding the audit.

The supermarket has recently dropped to third position behind Tesco and a resurgent Sainsbury's, which has benefited from television chef Jamie Oliver's patronage, and is looking to gain its position in its sector.

Asda recently extended its Great Stuff children's healthy eating range into non-food products including a suncare line and a range of toiletries under the sub-brand's banner.

The supermarket employs an estimated 130,000 employees in the UK.

Asda was not available for comment regarding the examination of its marketing services arrangements.

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