Tesco is understood to be preparing to review its estimated £80m media planning and buying account, currently with Initiative UK. The move could prove to be a blow to the Interpublic Group-owned agency, which has held the business for over 18 years.
Sources close to the situation say the retail giant is in discussions with rival networks regarding its planning and buying arrangements. A Tesco spokesman did not deny the potential pitch and adds: “We would not like to comment on this story.”
Sources also suggest that the pitch will be led by Tesco commercial director Richard Brasher.
Tesco has been an IPG client since it awarded its media business to the now-defunct Western Media, which was merged into Initiative in 2000. Three years ago, Tesco moved its advertising business out of IPG’s Lowe into Sir Frank Lowe’s start-up Red Brick Road.
The retailer recently launched a fresh attack in the ever-growing supermarket price war by cutting the cost of 18,000 products in one of its biggest weekly promotions. At the time of the launch of the initiative, Brasher said that Tesco’s move meant that it had cut £620m from its prices since January.
The threat of the loss of Tesco as a client will come as a huge blow for Initiative, which lost the £75m Orange media business last month.
The network last week lost its former UK chief executive Jerry Hill, who became the agency’s global strategic development director in March.
Hill and EMEA president Dirk Wiedenmann both left the agency following an internal reshuffle.