Asda’s recently-installed chief customer officer Andy Murray has opted to part ways with VCCP and Carat and instead work with his former employer Publics Groupe.
The move sees creative and media duties handled by Saatchi & Saatchi and Zenith respectively. A review was on the cards given Murray’s promotion to the role in February and the same goes for his picks given that he spent six years at Publicis Groupe’s shopper marketing outfit Saatchi & Saatchi X.
Murray said: "We’ve made a big commitment within Project Renewal to our brand and we are making changes at pace that will differentiate Asda with our customers both in stores and online. I'm excited about this new partnership with Saatchi & Saatchi and Zenith and I look forward to the leadership, creativity, and effectiveness this new team will bring to our business.
“I’d like to recognise and thank the VCCP and Carat teams for the contribution that they have made to Asda."
It sees the Asda account return to Publicis after it lost the business in 2013 when VCCP took the reins, ending a 20-year relationship with the advertising group. VCCP was responsible for steering the supermarket’s first revamp since 2002, which was most recently developed in its Christmas activity last year. The agency also masterminded campaigns for initiatives such as Asda’s biggest ever rollback offer and the revival of the brand’s ‘pocket tap’ last summer.
Adrian Coleman, founder and group chief executive of VCCP added: “As you can imagine, we are hugely disappointed with the news but understand that global realignments happen. We have enjoyed our time spent working with Asda and are very proud of the work we have produced. We wish them every business success for the future.”
Both Saatchi & Saatchi and Zenith will work with their former colleague to shape the retailer’s customer proposition, which is part of a wider overhaul of the retailer’s offer. That includes pumping an additional £500m in lowering prices on top of the £1bn five-year investment plan it unveiled in 2013. Those changes have not been without their casualties with some marketing roles at risk in a head office cull that could impact hundreds of jobs.
Saatchi & Saatchi Worldwide chief executive, Robert Senior, said: “We are delighted to be re-establishing our long standing partnership with Asda, bringing a fully integrated Publicis Groupe offer led by a joint Saatchi & Saatchi and Zenith team. This is a crucial time for UK retail and we relish the opportunity to support Asda in driving a reappraisal of its brand by customers using the latest creative techniques and cutting edge technology.”
Asda and its agencies face a sizeable challenge in a retail market undergoing rapid change. While rivals Tesco, Sainsbury’s and (to some extent) Morrisons have seen greenshoots of recovery in their efforts to ease sales declines, Asda has struggled. The retailer was the worst hit over Easter, with sales sliding 3.9 per cent to £4.2bn, according to Kantar Worldpanel. At Morrisons, sales fell 2.4 per cent to 2.7bn over the period, while Tesco sales dipped 0.2 per cent to £7.2bn. Meanwhile, at Sainsbury’s, sales climbed 1.2 per cent to £3.2bn.