Chanel is conducting a review of its global media-buying arrangements and has contacted leading agency groups.
WPP retained the account in 2013 when it set up a specialist shop, Plus, that drew on resources primarily from Mindshare as well as MEC, now known as Wavemaker, plus Ogilvy and AKQA.
MEC previously had a relationship with Chanel that went back another decade.
Chanel is a major advertiser and marketer, spending $1.77bn (£1.25bn) on “brand support activities” in 2019, although industry sources estimate that its paid media spend would likely be in the region of $400m to $500m.
The privately owned French fashion house declined to comment or offer confirmation when Campaign asked about the agency review.
MediaSense, which is running the pitch, would not comment.
Chanel’s most recent financial statement shows it had $12.3bn in annual revenues in 2019, up 13% on a year earlier, but the company warned in June 2020 it had suffered a “significant impact” from Covid-19 and the temporary closure of boutiques in all regions would “reduce revenue and earnings”.
Asia-Pacific is the biggest region by revenues (44%), followed by Europe (37%) and the Americas (19%).
Philippe Blondiaux, global chief financial officer, credited Chanel’s “long-term approach to investment and a strategy based on creativity, the application of a unique savoir-faire, and a permanent quest for innovation” for its performance before the pandemic.
“We remain confident of the long-term opportunities to strengthen our position as one of the world’s most iconic and innovative brands,” he added at the time of those results.
Chanel, which was founded in 1910 and is controlled by the Wertheimer family, began disclosing limited financial information in 2017.
The company increased its “brand support activities” in the three years before the pandemic – from $1.46bn in 2017 to $1.65bn in 2018 and then to $1.77bn in 2019.
Chanel prides itself on being “a brand whose core values remain historically grounded on exceptional creation” and is known for producing much of its advertising assets in-house.
Virginie Viard has been the creative director of Chanel since 2019 following the death of Karl Lagerfeld.
There has been a surge in the number of advertising pitches in 2021, after a hiatus in 2020 during the worst of the pandemic.
Speaking at virtual conference Campaign Connect earlier this month, Greg Paull, founder and principal of R3 Worldwide, a marketing and pitch consultancy, estimated pitches are up more than 40% on last year.