Saatchis faces threat to its Toyota business

Saatchi & Saatchi's hold on the international Toyota business has been dealt a blow with the news that three unnamed creative agencies have been asked to pitch for the pan-European branding project.

Saatchis has not been asked to pitch for the business. Toyota is understood to have called in creative agencies from both the UK and Europe.

In January, Toyota's commercial director, Mike Moran, left the company to join Thames Water. He was replaced by the company's marketing director, Paul Philpott. The following month, Toyota GB promoted Matt Harrison to replace Philpott.

Last July, Saatchis' hold on the account came under threat when it emerged that Toyota had briefed agencies, including the non-roster agency Leo Burnett, to pitch for the European launch of the Avensis.

Saatchis won the brief by default when it subsequently secured an over-arching brief to become Toyota's lead creative and strategic agency in Europe. Saatchis London worked with the Paris office to win the business from the Paris-based Lowe Alice, competing against the fellow Publicis network Leo Burnett.

Separately, the Toyota subsidiary Lexus is holding a pan-European creative pitch between Saatchis and its fellow roster agency, BLD Europe, owned by Dentsu. Saatchis won the previous two pitches for individual Lexus launches.

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