Sainsbury's in advertising agency talks

Sainsbury's is talking to advertising agencies about its £60 million creative account.

Sainsbury's in advertising agency talks

The supermarket has been with Abbott Mead Vickers BBDO for 35 years. The Omnicom agency last defended the business in 2005 when it beat WPP’s J Walter Thompson to keep hold of the account.

Sources said Sainsbury’s was holding meetings with rival agencies this week in a process being handled by AAR.

A final decision on whether to review could be delayed until after the Competition and Markets Authority's inquiry into Sainsbury's £1.4 billion deal to buy Argos from Home Retail Group. The CMA has until 25 July to decide whether to launch a full probe.

A Sainsbury’s spokeswoman said: "Sainsbury’s and AMV have a well-established relationship that stretches back over 35 years and, as you would expect, from time to time it’s important for us both to take a fresh look."

Sainsbury's retained PHD on its £60 million media planning and buying business in February last year after a competitive pitch involving WPP agencies Maxus and MediaCom, and Publicis Groupe's ZenithOptimedia.

Abbott Mead Vickers, as it was then known, won the Sainsbury’s account in 1981. Its high-profile work for the brand has included a series of ads featuring celebrities such as Dawn French creating their favourite meals in the 1990s and the long-running campaign featuring Jamie Oliver.

In recent years Sainsbury’s has created big-budget ads for Christmas including 2013’s "Christmas in a day", 2014’s "Christmas is for sharing" spot featuring the 1914 Christmas football match in the trenches and last year’s "Mog’s Christmas calamity" featuring the Judith Kerr cat.

There has been a lot of movement in the retail sector this year. In April Asda made the shock move of appointing Publicis Groupe’s Saatchi & Saatchi and Blue 449 to its creative and media accounts without a pitch.

Last month Marks & Spencer called a review of its creative business. Marks & Spencer’s 16-year incumbent Rainey Kelly Campbell Roafe/Y&R is going up against its sister WPP agencies in the pitch.

Update: The original version of this story stated the advertising pitch had started because Sainsbury's provided an inaccurate statement to Campaign.

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