Arvind Hickman
Jul 31, 2022

Agencies on alert as Tesco goes shopping for media account

WPP’s MediaCom has handled the UK’s largest supermarket since 2015.

Tesco: is reviewing its media requirements
Tesco: is reviewing its media requirements

Tesco has put agencies on alert by launching a review of its media planning and buying account.

WPP’s MediaCom is the incumbent on the account for Britain’s biggest supermarket after winning the business from IPG’s Initiative in 2015.

It is thought to be the first time since then that Tesco has conducted a full-blown review of its media arrangements.

Tesco confirmed a review is under way but declined to comment.

Campaign understands the pitch is not a reflection on MediaCom’s work. The process, which is at an early stage, is said to be part of a routine review of agency support.

Tesco spends upwards of £80m a year on advertising, according to previous estimates by Nielsen.

There was no immediate word on which agencies might be pitching for the account. M/Six and ZenithOptimedia pitched for the business against Initiative and MediaCom in 2015. 

The supermarket used Initiative for 20 years and its decision to move both its media account to MediaCom and its creative account from Wieden & Kennedy to Bartle Bogle Hegarty in 2015 came at a significant time, because Tesco had lost market share and suffered accounting problems.

Since then, Tesco has turned around its operations and launched “Food love stories” as a successful brand platform in 2017. 

Tesco, MediaCom and Bartle Bogle Hegarty went on to win a media Grand Prix for “Food love stories” at Cannes Lions in 2018 and the Grand Prix at the IPA Effectiveness Awards in 2020.

More recently, Tesco has stepped up its ambitions as a media owner in the fast-growing retail media sector by selling ad space on its own platforms, including its website and app.

The retail giant is working in partnership with its data science company, Dunnhumby, as it wants to help brands and agencies to buy ads and target them better by using data from the 20 million-plus households signed up to its Clubcard loyalty scheme and app.

Tesco’s media agency review will be a test for WPP after it announced plans to merge MediaCom and sister agency Essence globally from January 2023.

The two agencies are being kept separate in the UK to manage client conflicts, including Tesco and Sainsbury’s (the latter uses Essence for digital media), and Sky and BT (MediaCom and Essence clients respectively).

Alessandra Bellini, the chief customer officer of Tesco since 2017 and president of the Advertising Association, oversees the brand’s marketing.

Campaign UK

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