Food Lion Names GSD&M Agency of Record Without a Review

By Patrick Coffee 

Salisbury, North Carolina-based grocery store chain Food Lion has moved its ad business to GSD&M without a review. The Austin-based shop will officially start working on its newest account this week.

Doner Detroit had been AOR on the business since winning a review managed by Hasan + Company that ended in November 2015 (the account was previously with Mullen). The client alerted its MDC Partners shop to the change earlier this month.

A company spokesperson writes:

“On April 1, GSD&M will serve as Food Lion’s advertising agency of record. We look forward to partnering with GSD&M to serve as a strategic partner with Food Lion in developing integrated marketing campaigns and programs as the company delivers on its ‘Easy, Fresh and Affordable…You Can Count on Food Lion Every day’ strategy.

We also would like to thank Doner for their partnership since December 2015 and wish them all the best in the future.”

A representative for Doner confirmed that the business is no longer with its Detroit office, which went through a subsequent round of downsizing that affected less than 2 percent of total staff. (It’s unclear whether this number relates to the Detroit headquarters or the larger North American network.)

Doner’s first work for Food Lion was the “How Refreshing” campaign, which went live just under one year ago. Moving forward, GSD&M will handle creative and integrated marketing strategy with Media Assembly on media planning/buying. The latter agency, which is also owned by MDC, pitched alongside Doner in 2015 and retains its portion of the Food Lion account moving forward.

The parties who first told us about the shift stated that no review occurred and that the client did not give Doner a chance to defend the business. According to at least one source, Food Lion picked GSD&M based largely on a pre-existing relationship stemming from work that the agency did for fellow retail chain Walgreens (which has been a client since 2012).

A GSD&M spokesperson has not yet responded to our request for comment on the win.

According to the latest numbers from Kantar Media, Food Lion spent $13.4 million on measured media in 2015 and around $11 million in 2016.

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