Essence wins ITV media account

Large part of pitch was conducted remotely during lockdown.

ITV: broadcasts Alan Carr's Epic Gameshow
ITV: broadcasts Alan Carr's Epic Gameshow

ITV has appointed WPP’s Essence as its media strategy, planning and buying agency after a competitive pitch.

Essence will take over the ITV media account from independent shop Goodstuff Communications in August.

It is understood that the final round of the pitch was between Essence and another indie, Total Media, which handles BritBox, the streaming service that is majority-owned by ITV.

Total Media will retain BritBox until April 2021.

ITV, which broadcasts shows including Alan Carr's Epic Gameshow, will consolidate the ITV and BritBox accounts with Essence next year.

The combined media spend for ITV and BritBox is thought to be in the region of £25m a year.

"ITV’s brief to agencies outlined its ambition to identify a media partner capable of providing strategic excellence and creative problem-solving across media, data and marketing technology, in keeping with ITV’s ongoing digital transformation and direct-to-consumer focus, as part of its ‘More than TV’ strategy," the broadcaster said.

Essence would appear a good fit because it has made its name as Google’s digital media agency and has expanded significantly in recent years, building a bespoke unit, Beauty Tech Labs, for L’Oréal in the UK and picking up BT.

The WPP agency also looks after another big broadcaster, Comcast-owned NBCUniversal, in the US.

ID Comms ran the pitch, which began in January and was notable because much of the process was run remotely during the coronavirus lockdown.

Jane Stiller, director of media at ITV, said: "Essence have a proven track record in delivering business growth and have consistently demonstrated deep audience insight built from creative use of data, clear strategic recommendations and a rigorous focus on measurement. 

"We look forward to working with them as we continue our push towards strengthening our digital and data capability. We would like to thank Goodstuff, with whom we have shared a great working relationship for four years."  

Tim Irwin, EMEA chief executive of Essence, said: "We are delighted to have been appointed by ITV. The opportunity to work with the UK’s number-one broadcaster is enormously exciting. We look forward to helping them harness the power of their data in new and exciting ways."

WPP’s Mindshare previously held the ITV media account until 2016. Sister agency MediaCom continues to look after Sky, which was bought by Comcast in 2018.

ITV is Britain’s biggest commercial broadcaster by ad sales. Its recently published annual report said ITV’s biggest, unnamed customer was a "media buying agency", thought to be WPP, which spent £551m with the company last year.

The TV market has plunged because of the coronavirus lockdown, with ITV reporting that ad revenue fell by 42% in April.

Andrew Stephens, founding partner of Goodstuff Communications, said: "I would like to thank ITV and ID Comms for running a fair and professional review and we wish them and Essence the best."

Uncommon Creative Studio handles ITV's advertising business.

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