Sky Puts $300 Million Creative Account in Review As Fox, Comcast Fight Over Telecom Giant

British conglomerate invited 4 agencies to pitch

Sky is one of Britain’s largest advertisers.

Sky has placed its creative account into review as the British media and telecommunications giant remains embroiled in a takeover battle that has Twenty-First Century Fox and Comcast vying for control.

The review will only affect Sky’s marketing efforts in the U.K., according to a party with knowledge of the review.

In the most recent development in the takeover battle, Fox was given an extended deadline of Sept. 22 to counter Comcast’s $34 billion bid. Fox, which owns 39 percent of Sky, previously tendered $32.5 billion to buy the remaining 61 percent stake. Last month, Comcast dropped out of the ongoing bidding war it waged with Disney over the majority of Fox’s TV and film assets to focus on acquiring Sky.

Sky is one of Britain’s largest advertisers. COMvergence research places its annual global marketing spend at $620 million, with $260 million and $150 million of that concentrated in the U.K. and Germany, respectively. The rest of the spend is divvied up between Italy ($80 million), Brazil ($75 million), Ireland ($20 million), New Zealand ($15 million), Austria ($10 million), Australia ($5 million) and Spain ($5 million), according to COMvergence.

Greg Paull, R3 co-founder and principal, estimated Sky’s annual marketing spend within the U.K. at $300 million.

“Sky connects its customers to more of what they love, and we’re looking for an agency that will help bring this to life,” a Sky spokesperson said in a statement.

A person close to the review said Sky has invited four agencies to participate including its current roster shops WCRS and Brothers and Sisters in London. The person added that the company only invited agencies into the review that “have the scale to support Sky,” and that the brief is centered around providing guidance for the brand. The company also frequently works with its own Sky Creative Agency, described as “probably the biggest in-house agency in the world.”

The review is expected to close in the fall and is being run by Sky’s Debbie Klein, group chief marketing and corporate affairs officer, and Luke Bradley-Jones, CMO of the U.K., according to the source.

Earlier this year, WPP’s MediaCom prevailed in Sky’s review of its media account spanning the U.K., Ireland, Spain, Germany and Austria, retaining its agency of record status and extending a 14-year relationship with the broadcast brand.

Sky is headquartered in London and is Europe’s largest pay-TV broadcaster with 21 million subscribers.

@kitten_mouse Lindsay Rittenhouse is a staff writer at Adweek, where she specializes in covering the world of agencies and their clients.
@PatrickCoffee Patrick Coffee is a senior editor for Adweek.