Asda takes holding company route as it kicks off pitch


Asda has an interesting selection of agencies pitching for its UK ad account currently at Omnicom’s AMV BBDO (which is repitching.)

It’s up against VCCP Blue (described as VCCP’s “specialist advertising arm”), WPP’s Wunderman Thompson, Interpublic’s FCB Inferno and a Publicis Groupe team ld by Leo Burnett. VCCP is private-equity owned.

The UK’s new wave of creative agencies hasn’t had a look in then, although some of them may have been wary. The supermarket, formerly owned by Walmart, is the subject of an agreed bid by petrol station magnates the Issa brothers with US private equity firm TDR.

The £6.8bn bid, which mainly consists of loans, bonds and debt with a relatively small amount of equity, is still being considered by the UK’s competition authorities. Such an old-style deal might make an independent agency’s financial director wary although Asda, unlike previous retail casualties of such deals like Debenhams, throws off mountains of cash.

AMV will see this as a chance to redeem itself following its disastrous ‘Sunny’ price-based campaign for Asda last year. VCCP should have landed a big supermarket before now given its solid credentials. Wunderman Thompson has fared pretty well since the two merged at WPP but a big supermarket is a step up from the agency’s digital-based core business.

Interesting that Publicis is fielding Leo Burnett (still officially Iceland’s agency) rather than Saatchi & Saatchi but Saatchi handled Asda before AMV so maybe there’s a diplomatic element there. Wonder what new ‘Power of One’ entity Publicis will pitch with? FCB Inferno has performed pretty well for Interpublic and has shown a common touch with ‘This girl can’ for Sport England. But, again, a supermarket is a step up.

Bet they’re all relieved to see no Mother, Uncommon or New Commercial Arts on the list.

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