Pitch update

Watch out M&C Saatchi, Sir Frank Lowe could well be playing a part in your future.

With Heineken's Scottish & Newcastle takeover deal now in place, expect Sir Frank's close ties with the Heineken family to influence the future of S&N's advertising arrangements, possibly in the direction of his agency, The Red Brick Road.

For the slower new-business directors among you, this week's hottest tip is John Lewis (marketing director Gill Barr, telephone number 020 7828 1000). The retailer, which is known for its ethical practices and long-serving members of staff, is not one to smile upon rough office politics of the kind that are going on at its current advertising agency, Lowe. In addition, the agency installed Judy Mitchem to run the John Lewis account not long before it fired her. Duh!

Calling all start-ups ... Rumour has it that the Lastminute.com chief marketing officer, Simon Thompson, has a taste for fledgling agencies, inspired by his robust relationship with Wieden & Kennedy in the early years on Honda. Adam & Eve should be all over this. As should any agency with something of an entrepreneurial feel.

Expect a decision on Smooth Radio shortly. Apparently the incumbent, Clear Marketing Communications, is putting up a good fight at the final stages and we shouldn't be surprised if it pulls through.

McDonald's will be completing chemistry meetings with digital agencies this week. Expect the shortlist of eight to be cut down, with four shops invited to the next round to present creative work. A decision is expected in early April.

The Axa pitch, which has gone remarkably quiet in the last couple of weeks, has not been pulled and pitches are set to commence in about ten days.

Meanwhile, in medialand, there don't seem to be many fresh leads this week. All we've got is that COI has a couple of media briefs it's preparing to pitch out.

Visit Wales is looking a little less promising as a prospect than it was at first. The group is understood to have put back pitches (teams of direct and ad agencies) from late-February to early April.

Finally, you know times are hard for DM new business when top London network agencies are considering pitching for New Holland, the farming equipment company. Yep, DM shops are busy brushing up their combine harvester credentials as you read ...