Tesco’s ex-agency Wieden + Kennedy lands contested Sainsbury’s advertising account

Sainsbury's

Sainsbury's has appointed Wieden + Kennedy to its advertising account, The Drum has learned, ending a near 40-year relationship between the supermarket and AMV BBDO.

Although it was not believed to be one of AMV BBDO's biggest paying accounts, winning such a high-profile retail brand represents a coup for Wieden + Kennedy after it was unceremoniously dumped by Tesco last year.

Sainsbury’s marketing director, Sarah Warby, said: “I’d like to thank AMV BBDO for the enormous contribution they’ve made to our business over many years. This has included some truly iconic campaigns, from Jamie Oliver to recent Christmas campaigns like Christmas Truce and Mog the Cat. We will continue to work closely with the AMV BBDO team over the coming months, including our Christmas 2016 campaign, while in parallel planning the transition.

“This was a very difficult decision but we felt it was important to get a fresh perspective and I’m delighted to welcome W&K to Sainsbury’s.”

Recently promoted marketer Mark Given began the review in early June after the supermarket noted its first sales slump following two years of modest increases.

The move also came on the back of a spate of creative reviews in the grocery sector, with all of Sainsbury’s ‘Big Four’ competitors overhauling their agency rosters in the 18 months before.

Tesco moved its £110m creative from to BBH at the height of its troubles in January 2015 while Morrisons cut ties with agency of nine-years DLKW Lowe – part of the Mullen Lowe Group – in favour of Publicis London. In April this year Asda’s newly instated marketer Andy Murray moved the retailer’s £73m creative business from VCCP to his former agency Saatchi & Saatchi.

Alongside AMV BBDO, MullenLowe and Mother were in the running for the business.

But MullenLowe dropped out in the early stages and so Wieden + Kennedy’s sector experience coupled with a fresh take on the direction of Sainsbury’s advertising may have given it the edge.

Wieden + Kennedy was responsible for some of Tesco’s most popular campaigns and impressed in 2013 and 2014 with its Christmas adverts, a key fixture for Sainsbury’s which has been widely praised for its festive output over the past few years.

However, what became evident with the Sainsbury’s review was that more effort on the marketing front was needed outside of Christmas. The Drum understands that during the pitch marketing bosses at the supermarket wanted to see work that would resonate throughout the year.

But, the challenge for Wieden + Kennedy lies in the fact that many of the features that formed the backbone of the retailer’s customer facing comms, including its Brand Match scheme and other price-promotions, have been axed.

The agency will also have to contend with the merger with Argos. Sainsbury’s boss Mike Coupe has made no secret of its desire to be a leading digital retailer and it sorely needs its new agency to be able to engage with the expanded customer base.

Join us, it's free.

Become a member to get access to:

  • Exclusive Content
  • Daily and specialised newsletters
  • Research and analysis

Join us, it’s free.

Want to read this article and others just like it? All you need to do is become a member of The Drum. Basic membership is quick, free and you will be able to receive daily news updates.