Pitch Update: KFC delves into the agency mega bucket for a new CRM shop

KFC: Mario Lopez starred as a hot young Colonel Sanders in 16-minute film 'A Recipe For Seduction'
KFC: Mario Lopez starred as a hot young Colonel Sanders in 16-minute film 'A Recipe For Seduction'

MediaSense has been appointed to oversee the government’s selection process for media planning and buying this year


MediaSense has been appointed to oversee the government’s selection process for media planning and buying this year. The media planning roster, part of the overall Crown Commercial Services framework, was due to be reviewed last year but was delayed due to difficulties related to the Covid-19 pandemic. The planning roster review is due to begin this month and prospective agencies attended a webinar briefing by the CCS on 2 February. The media buying account, currently held by Omnicom Media Group’s bespoke agency OmniGov, will also go into review later this year.

Purplebricks is set to hold pitch meetings in early March, after an initial briefing with prospective agencies was pushed back to next week (10 February). WPP’s Wavemaker is defending the account and chief marketing officer Ben Carter, formerly of Just Eat, is the client. MediaSense is also assisting Purplebricks with this review.


KFC has called a review of its CRM account for the UK and Ireland. The process, which is through the AAR, is expected to conclude in April.

Incumbent Iris is not repitching. Its chief executive, Chris Marlow, said he was “proud of the positive commercial impact we’ve had on their business”.

Explaining the move, Meghan Farren, chief marketing officer of the fried chicken chain, said: “We have a strong partnership with Iris, which is testament to the significant contribution they’ve made to our business over the last few years. However, with so much change within the CRM environment and our category, we believe now is the right time to review the relationship to help us determine the right partner going forward.”

United Airlines has kicked off a global creative agency review. The airline has invited incumbent Dentsumcgarrybowen, which has held the account since 2011, to participate in the pitch, a spokesperson confirmed. The airline declined to name other agencies invited to take part.

Starling Bank is looking for a new media agency after its contract with Bountiful Cow ended last year. But network shops beware: the challenger bank kicked large agencies off the longlist during its last review in 2019. 

Nestlé, the world's largest food and drink company, has put its £63m UK & Ireland media account into review. Zenith has held the KitKat and Nespresso brand owner's media planning and buying since 2014 (when it was known as ZenithOptimedia) and is understood to be defending the business. The Publicis Groupe agency was invited to repitch alongside shops from other major ad networks. Nestlé spent £63m in the UK last year, according to Nielsen estimates.


Transport for London has reappointed VCCP to its through-the-line marketing and behaviour change account after a pitch process that has taken almost 18 months to complete. The Chime Communications shop emerged victorious in a four-way pitch against Adam & Eve/DDB, M&C Saatchi and Ogilvy. Abbott Mead Vickers BBDO and FCB Inferno were involved at an earlier stage in the process, which was assisted by AAR. VCCP has been awarded a two-year contract with an option for a further two years. 

Lexus has appointed Wunderman Thompson and The & Partnership to deliver UK customer relationship management. The car brand has ended its relationship with Publicis Groupe’s Digitas. An integrated WPP team, made up of Wunderman Thompson, The & Partnership and M/SIX, will work to deliver against Lexus’ brand promise, "Experience Amazing", across email, online display channels and connected media, such as video-on-demand TV and digital outdoor. The & Partnership’s existing scope includes creative strategy and brand, while M/SIX handles media planning and buying. The & Partnership also works on parent company Toyota's eponymous brand.

Aesop has appointed Havas CX as its global customer engagement agency following a competitive pitch via The Observatory International. The account will be led out of the UK’s Havas CX Helia but run by a combined team from both Helia and BETC Fullsix in France, which pitched together for the business with local insight from Havas CX in Asia. The skin, hair and bodycare brand has briefed the agency to develop a new global “replenishment and recognition” programme for its customers. The work was previously handled in-house.

Christian Aid has appointed Goodstuff Communications to its £2m UK media planning and buying business following a competitive pitch with five agencies, run by Freestyle Marketing. The appointment comes as the charity searched for a long-term strategic partner to aid fundraising growth. Christian Aid previously worked with John Ayling & Associates for 20 years.

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