The appointment of both to take on media, previously held by Havas, will introduce WPP's Wavemaker to handle the account in all markets except France, where GroupM will handle it, while Publicis will now service media in UK, Germany, Italy and Hong Kong.
Meanwhile, Publicis will continue its decade long creative partnership with AXA which will also see it take on the integrated creative accounts in the same four territories also.
The contract handed to WPP covers close to 30 markets across Europe, Middle East, Africa, Asia and Latin America and is estimated to be worth $161m.
“AXA is a great brand and we are very proud to have been given such an extensive brief to support its development through the media, technology and data expertise of Wavemaker and GroupM,” said Mark Read, chief executive of WPP.
Toby Jenner, Wavemaker’s new global chief executive, added: “We are delighted to begin a new relationship with AXA. To have won their business and be their chosen partner as they transform into a services company says everything about the breadth and depth of Wavemaker’s ability to deliver transformative solutions.”
Publicis defeated the likes Dentsu, Havas, Omnicom and WPP during the 10-month pitch process.
"Firstly, it is a great source of pride to be able to work for a brand like AXA. It is also a real opportunity for Publicis to spearhead a new integrated approach in some of their key countries,” said Agathe Bousquet, the resident of Publicis Groupe in France.
“At a time when AXA is leading a real revolution, changing its business model and reinventing its relationship with its customers, we are very happy to be strategically partnering with the brand in its transformation around the world.”
Chief executive Arthur Sadoun added: “After LVMH, Mondelez, Novartis and more recently Disney, the AXA Group’s renewed trust is another demonstration of the relevance of our integrated model of creation, media and data, which perfectly meets the major marketing transformation needs of our clients.”
In the countries where it has AXA’s creative remit, Publicis will set up integrated teams and manage creation, media and data for AXA’s advertising practice.
For example, in Singapore, it was part AXA’s panel of ad agencies, including the likes The Prosecution Film Company and Kraftw5rkz, which worked on a campaign called ‘Rewrite the Rules’.
Léo Costes, the former managing director of AXA in Singapore and now the chief operating and customer officer for AXA in Colombia, previously explained to The Drum how AXA’s hybrid model of putting its in-house and agency marketers together in a team has been successful in helping the Paris-headquartered financial services firm become more agile in the digital space.
For WPP, who will become a key part of AXA’s marketing engine, the win comes as the holding company reported that it is “back in normal business” after making "substantial progress" to return to growth for the first time since 2017.
The holding company posted a 0.5% increase in organic revenue, which rose to 0.7% when the sale of Kantar was factored in. It was a surprise performance following the 2.8% fall in the first quarter and a 1.4% drop in the second quarter.