Essence set to win Sainsbury's digital media account

Grocery giant plans to consolidate digital activity for Sainbury's and Argos.

Sainsbury's: works with Wieden & Kennedy London for creative
Sainsbury's: works with Wieden & Kennedy London for creative

WPP media agency Essence is poised to win Sainsbury’s digital media account from PHD after a closed pitch process involving the two shops.

It would mean that Essence will expand its remit with the Sainsbury's group, having won the Argos digital media account in 2019.

Essence's duties for Argos include programmatic, online video and paid social media, as well as consultancy support for in-house activity.

It is thought that Sainsbury's, Britain's second-biggest grocer, now wants to consoldiate its digital activity across the Sainsbury's and Argos brands.

Sainsbury's and Essence would not comment on the expected account move.

PHD is set to retain the rest of the media planning and buying duties, which were not part of the review.

The Omnicom shop has held the Sainsbury's media account for 25 years and expanded its remit to include Argos in summer 2017, when the agency won a closed review under dramatic circumstances.

Sainsbury's decided to appoint M/SIX four months earlier in February 2017, but Omnicom Media Group challenged the way the review was run and then won the estimated £115m consolidation.

Essence picked up Argos' digital account from specialist retail agency Summit last year.

Doubling online sales in four months

Sainsbury's acquired Argos, a homeware and electronics retailer with a big online operation, in 2016 and has looked to make efficiencies.

The group's online sales have doubled over the past four months as the nation has been forced to stay at home during the coronavirus pandemic.

Sainsbury's first-quarter trading statement for the 16 weeks to 27 June, released yesterday (Wednesday), noted that online grocery sales grew 87% year on year.

Argos also "performed very well", with home delivery sales up 78% and click-and-collect sales up 53%.

There are some links between Sainsbury's and WPP at board level. 

Keith Weed, former chief marketing and communications officer at Unilever, became a non-executive director of WPP last year and added the same role on the Sainsbury's board this week.

John Rogers, who became chief financial officer at WPP earlier this year, was Sainsbury’s Argos chief executive until October 2019.

Sainsbury's splits its creative duties between Wieden & Kennedy for Sainsbury's and The & Partnership London for Argos.

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