Pitch Update: Agency execs return from holidays to slew of big results

Major pitch results approaching: Facebook, IAG, Coca-Cola and Unilever
Major pitch results approaching: Facebook, IAG, Coca-Cola and Unilever

Duolingo, meanwhile, has got on its bike and moved to a new media agency.

Ongoing pitches

The start of September marks the end of the summer holiday season and decision time on a string of major global and local reviews that agencies have been anxiously awaiting.

These include the global integrated pitches for Coca-Cola and International Airlines Group (both of which launched in early 2021) and international media reviews for Unilever and Facebook. Other high-profile UK media reviews include Channel 4 and the Government’s Crown Commercial Service.

The volume of pitches is “significantly higher than last year” – about “30% to 50% higher” – according to Wendy Clark, global chief executive of Dentsu International, owner of Carat, iProspect and Dentsumcgarrybowen, speaking at its Q2 results call in August.

“We have seen a handful of very large clients who had planned pitches this year delay now into 2022” because of the “volume” of reviews and advertisers’ concerns that their own pitch would not receive the “attention that they wanted”, Clark added.

A lot of clients postponed pitches in 2020 because of the pandemic, “which is why we're seeing such high volume and activity right now”, but she predicted that the number of pitches will “normalise” in 2022. “I don't think it sustains quite at this level,” she said.

One creative pitch that is drawing to an imminent conclusion is Ribena, which is putting four agencies to the squeeze for the right to create its advertising, with final pitches set for September. Omnicom's Adam & Eve/DDB – which already has the account of fellow Suntory brand Lucozade – is up against Publicis Groupe's Bartle Bogle Hegarty, Accenture Interactive's Karmarama and independent shop Creature for the drink brand's business. Havas London was also involved, but has withdrawn from the process.


Bicycle London has been appointed without a pitch to handle media in the UK for language-learning app Duolingo. The scope includes strategic planning, media planning and buying, and app store optimisation. The account was previously with Bountiful Cow, the former agency of Bicycle founder Henry Daglish.

Wavemaker has won L'Oréal's media account in Italy in a competitive pitch as the WPP media agency continues to expand its relationship with the beauty and cosmetics giant. It is understood Wavemaker beat teams from Publicis Media and OMD to the Italian account, following regional wins in DACH (Germany, Austria and Switzerland) and ANZ (Australia and New Zealand).

KP Snacks-owned popcorn brand Butterkist has appointed St Luke’s as its lead creative agency following a competitive roster pitch, held entirely remotely. Butterkist handled the review directly, involving a final-stage three-way pitch against fellow roster agencies Iris and Engine, which previously had the business. St Luke’s already has fellow KP brands KP Nuts, Tyrrells and Popchps.

The Kite Factory has been appointed to handle UK media for HU, a grain- and gluten-free cookie brand recently acquired by Mondelez. The win follows a competitive pitch, and The Kite Factory will be HU’s first UK media agency.

WPP agency Syzygy has been appointed as media partner for fitness equipment and education brand TRX, following a competitive pitch. The incumbent was Brainlabs. 

Birmingham-based branding agency Orb has won a series of new accounts. Orb has been hired to build awareness for two sporting events in the West Midlands –  the IBSA Blind Games in August 2023 and the World Trampolining and DMT Championships in November 2023. These appointments follow three-way and four-way pitches respectively, with no incumbent for either. 

De Beers, the diamond company, has appointed Havas Media Group as its global media agency following a competitive pitch. Havas already handled the media business for De Beers Jewellers, one of two company brands. This appointment extends its reach to its second brand, De Beers Forevermark, which was previously held by Mindshare. Mindshare declined to pitch.

Pets at Home has hired Wunderman Thompson to support its digital marketing, with the agency handling customer and user experience across all of the pet supplier's digital channels. There was no incumbent on the business and the pitch process was run in-house by the retailer.


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