Sainsbury’s Launches Creative Review

By Erik Oster 

U.K. retail giant Sainsbury’s is “is in talks with a number of top creative agencies” in a review being led by recently-promoted (last August) director of marketing planning and propositions Mark Given, The Drum reports. According to that publication, the account is estimated at around £60 million (or almost $87.5 million). Media buying and planning is not part of the review and will remain with PHD. 

AMV BBDO has been Sainsbury’s agency of record for nearly forty years. Its most high-profile work for the client has undoubtedly been the yearly holiday campaigns it created for the brand. In recent years, these high-budget spectacles have included the children’s book-inspired “Mog’s Christmas Calamity” and “Christmas is for Sharing,” the somewhat controversial 2014 spot depicting the 1914 Christmas Truce between Britain and Germany during World War I.

“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,” a Sainsbury’s spokesperson told The Drum. 

Sainsbury’s three largest competitors — Tesco, Morrisons and Asda — have all switched agencies in recent years. Tesco moved its $170 million creative account from W+K London to BBH London in January of 2015, Morrisons dropped nine-year incumbent DLKW Lowe for Publicis London a year later and Asda left VCCP for Saatchi & Saatchi this April. 

So, when taken in conjunction with its senior marketing shakeup last year, the news is not entirely surprising. Sainsbury’s also recently made a takeover bid for Argos, who currently works with WPP’s CHI&Partners. AMV BBDO is presumably defending in the review, but details about which other “top creative agencies” are involved are currently unavailable.