L’Oreal’s £106m media business for the UK and Ireland is to stay with WPP in a newly formed ‘Beauty Tech Lab’, which will be staffed by both the client and agency.
A review of the business kicked off last November and saw WPP's Wavemaker - which has held the account for the past five years - fend off Dentsu Aegis Network’s Carat in the final round of pitching.
Publicis Media and indie The7stars had both been knocked out earlier in the process. This came as a particular blow to Publicis, whose agency Zenith had been the 10-year incumbent on the account before losing it to WPP in 2014.
In the pitch, it was WPP's Essence that sealed the deal on the account.
L'Oreal said the partnership with the digital shop will see the formation of Beauty Tech Labs - a dedicated client-agency team "powered by Essence’s and L’Oréal’s technology, operational expertise and talent with seamless access to insights, knowledge and resources from across WPP".
Gayle Noah, media director at L'Oreal, who led the review, said: "There is significant talent and great thinking in the market, and we were privileged to see it throughout the whole review. We are delighted to appoint Essence and look forward to working with them and building Beauty Tech Labs together.”
The cosmetics company last reviewed the business in 2013 when WPP media agency Maxus was appointed to take over the account from ZenithOptimedia.
L'Oréal had to navigate a number of changes within the WPP agency over the past two years. The most notable was when Maxus merged with sister media shop MEC to form consolidated agency group, Wavemaker, in 2017.
Essence’s chief executive for EMEA, Tim Irwin, said the agency was "excited" to work with L'Oreal on not only building a new model for client-agency collaboration, "but to setting new standards for what is possible in data analytics and media innovation".
WPP’s UK country manager, Karen Blackett, continued: “WPP is thrilled to provide L’Oréal with a different way of working and an agency model built for the future. The creation of Beauty Tech Labs delivers that: the best of WPP’s offering, anchored in Essence.”
Aperto One acted as the intermediary throughout the review process.