Kinetic, the poster specialist 50% owned by WPP Group, is understood to have lost the £42m account for tobacco giant Philip Morris in Germany to rival Posterscope.
It is understood the loss will be a further blow to the outdoor company, which is at risk of being dropped by Publicis Groupe after a review conducted by outdoor veteran Kevin Shute.
Posterscope is thought to have won the business following Philip Morris’ review of the out-of-home market across Europe. It is understood that Starcom was Kinetic’s out-of-home partner in Germany.
Philip Morris International owns seven of the world’s top 15 tobacco brands, including Marlboro – the number one cigarette brand worldwide. Its products are sold in about 160 countries. German laws mean that cigarette companies are able to advertise on outdoor poster sites for at least two more years.
An industry insider says the loss will “put more pressure” on Kinetic, whose billings are thought to be down year on year.
Shute, a former Van Wagner UK sales director, began his review in June this year. Publicis Groupe Media is the division that houses media agencies Starcom Mediavest and ZenithOptimedia.
ZenithOptimedia’s outdoor media is handled by a joint venture with Aegis Group-owned Posterscope called Meridian Outdoor. Starcom’s outdoor buying is handled by Kinetic.