Pitch Update

The new-business market in 2008 was much the same as it was in 2007, according to the AAR (page 2), but it's fair to say it feels pretty busy at the moment.

And the recession should not have too much of an impact on the number of reviews in 2009. Looking back over the past ten years or so, the number of annual pitches has remained fairly static, regardless of the state of the economy - only the dotcom boom had any real impact.

If anything, we might see more pitches, as clients seek reassurance that they are with the right agency - which might go some way towards explaining the recent trend for agencies retaining accounts.

Something certainly seems to be causing a bit of movement in the retailers' ad arrangements - barely a week goes by without another one calling a review.

This week was the turn of B&Q, whose speed in announcing its ad pitch seems to have caught quite a few people on the hop. Not least the incumbent, JWT, which still hasn't decided whether or not to repitch for the business.

Word is that the DIY specialist is in no hurry to find a new agency, with pitch dates not expected to be set up until early summer. Rapier, which B&Q has appointed in the meantime to handle a project, will be hoping its work impresses enough to give it a bite at the entire advertising cherry.

Debenhams, meanwhile, is forging ahead with its £15 million review, and has shortlisted Publicis, JWT, M&C Saatchi, Bartle Bogle Hegarty and - somewhat incongruously - Karmarama to pitch for the account from a longlist of 20.

Word has it that the retailer wanted a shortlist of four but was so impressed by the quality of the presentations that it was hard-pushed to whittle the list down at all. Creative standout on Debenhams work? It just shows what lengths agencies are prepared to go to on even the least creatively exciting pitches. Briefings will take place at the end of this week, with pitch meetings scheduled for the end of February.

Debenhams' incumbent, Miles Calcraft Briginshaw Duffy (which resigned the account), and Adam & Eve are both still in the running for John Lewis, with tissue meetings having taken place last week and final pitches due next Friday.

Outside of retail, the usual rumours of shoo-ins are circulating over the E.ON pitch. Some agencies are tipping DDB (one of the E.ON marketers used to work at VW) and some fancy WCRS (the other senior marketer used to work at Abbey).

Media reviews were up by quite a significant jump in 2008, according to the AAR, with UK reviews for big brands such as Santander, Orange and Cadbury-Schweppes joining the international reviews for the likes of Renault-Nissan, Intel and Visa.

Most of these have now been wrapped up, but 2009 looks like following suit if the first few weeks are anything to go by, with news this week of pitches for Peugeot-Citroen and Universal Music for agencies to get their teeth into.

Contrary to its current run of form, Carat is now out of Canon's £50 million EMEA media pitch - leaving just Universal McCann and the hotly tipped PHD in the running. An official decision is expected early next week.

And media agencies seem pretty confident that Project Kangaroo - the video-on-demand service from the major broadcasters - will get the green light, with MPG, Mediaedge:cia, Mindshare, OMD and Vizeum all willing to bet that the Competition Commission will give it the go-ahead when it makes its final decision on 8 February.

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