The FTSE 100 retailer is re-evaluating the two agencies in what industry sources say is an extremely unusual, if not unprecedented, move.
Sainsbury’s called the closed pitch late last year as it consolidated the supermarket’s £62m account, held by PHD, and Argos’ £53m business, handled by Mindshare.
Sainsbury’s informed PHD that it had lost the account after 22 years and told M/SIX it had won on 8 February. Campaign broke the news, although Sainsbury’s never publicly confirmed the appointment of M/SIX, which is a joint venture between The & Partnership and WPP.
PHD owner Omnicom Media Group is said to feel that the process was not conducted fairly and complained to Sainsbury’s at board level.
The retailer, which bought Argos last year, prides itself on its fair treatment of suppliers and has a formal complaints procedure.
Losing Sainsbury’s was a second blow for Omnicom, following Abbott Mead Vickers BBDO’s loss of the creative account after 35 years.
A Sainsbury’s spokesman declined to comment beyond saying that the "pitch process" is ongoing. OMG and M/SIX did not comment.