Woolworths hands bonus to Zenith

Woolworths has moved its media planning business out of its creative agency Bates UK and into Zenith Media, which also handles the retailer’s media buying.

The appointment follows months of speculation about the retailer’s creative advertising business. However, Woolworths continues to deny that the £26.6m advertising account, currently with Bates, is under review.

A spokeswoman for the company says: “We have an annually renewable contract for planning that has just expired and we are moving that function over to Zenith.”

Rumours that Woolworths is reviewing its advertising began when the retailer was demerged from parent company Kingfisher and floated on the stock exchange last August.

At the same time, Woolworths appointed Octavia Morley, former managing director for e-commerce at Asda and then head of clothing at Woolworths, as its marketing director.

Morley is on maternity leave and her role is being temporarily overseen by former Asda head of advertising Matthew Jenkins, who is working as a consultant. Morley’s immediate brief was to focus on the Christmas marketing activity, which included TV ads featuring celebrities such as SClub7, former EastEnder star Sid Owen, Ant and Dec and Des Lynam.

But the Christmas spending boom by-passed Woolworths. Its like-for-like sales fell 3.5 per cent in the nine weeks to January 5.

Chairman Gerald Corbett criticised the ads for not focusing enough on product deals, but the retailer has since claimed that the campaign was its most successful to date.

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