Asda is set to review its 40m media planning and buying business after 12 years with Carat.
Industry insiders say the retailer has held informal talks with several agencies including Media Planning Group (MPG) and Zenith Optimedia ahead of a full-scale pitch.
The move is believed to be part of a wider review of Asda’s relationships with its suppliers.
Carat’s grip on the account was weakened last year when Brilliant Media was appointed to handle Asda’s 12m regional and local media planning and buying business (MW August 4, 2005). The agency was appointed after Asda bought in auditors to examine how it handles regional marketing (MW July 21, 2005).
There have been rumours about the strength of Carat’s hold on Asda’s media account since the departure of Aegis Media UK & Ireland chief executive Mark Craze, who was known to be close to the business.
Craze is now a managing partner at Havas-owned MPG, which he joined last year.
TMD Carat, as it was known then, was appointed to handle Asda’s media business in 1994. Earlier this year, the supermarket consolidated its online financial services spend into Carat.
Asda and Carat both refused to comment on the review as Marketing Week went to press.