Pitch Update: Decision imminent for government’s media-buying review

Havas has had a strong run, winning accounts from Ryvita and four airlines under the International Airlines Group.


Four agencies are keenly awaiting the result of the UK government’s statutory media buying review, which Campaign understands is due to be announced in the next two weeks.

The government’s Media Services account is currently handled by OmniGov, a division within Manning Gottlieb OMD, which won the business in 2018. Other contenders include WPP’s MediaCom, Dentsu’s Carat and Havas Media.

According to government tender application documents, the net annual media spend is forecast between £179m and £210m.

OmniGov has handled coronavirus communications during the pandemic and won agency team of the year at the Campaign Media Awards in 2020 and 2021.

However, the government has changed its media agency at each of its last two reviews. Carat won the contract in 2014 – a decision that was challenged by WPP, the previous incumbent, in court. The government went on to move the account again – to MG OMD in a four-year deal worth up to £600m in 2018.

TransPennine Express has opened a search for a creative marketing agency for TPE and the TransPennine Route Upgrade project. The value of the account is £2.5m, with the contract starting in March 2022 and the prospective campaign to launch in spring of that year.

Funkin Cocktails is on the hunt for a lead creative agency. Campaign understands a review has kicked off and progressed to the chemistry meeting stage. Funkin Cocktails does not have a retained creative agency partner, but Visual Method has recently worked on their Christmas campaign. Creativebrief is helping the AG Barr-owned brand with the review.

Volkswagen is to review its global media planning and buying account – spanning brands including VW, Audi, Skoda and Seat – which is currently held by PHD. A spokesperson for Volkswagen confirmed the news, and issued Campaign a statement, which said: "In the coming year, there will be a regular tender for the Volkswagen Group's media agency contract, which has been in place since 2016 and runs until the end of 2023.” Omnicom’s PHD was appointed in 2016 in a consolidation and took over the then-estimated $3bn (£2.35bn) account in 2017.


Taco Bell has appointed its first UK creative agency, TheOr. Mother’s offshoot agency won against two undisclosed agencies in a pitch managed by AAR. Part of TheOr’s role will be to reinterpret the US brand platform "Live más" (translated as 'live more') for the UK market.

Ryvita has appointed Havas London to develop a “major relaunch campaign”. The agency was appointed without a formal pitch process. Associated British Foods planned a procurement-led process earlier this year, but after conversations with Havas London began working with the shop on a trial basis until its appointment. Since parting ways with Creature in 2017, Ryvita has largely handled its digital marketing in-house and a new campaign would mark its first above-the-line push in half a decade.

GoCompare has agreed to continue working with Omnicom’s Hearts & Science UK for a further three years, an extension which was agreed without a pitch process.

Brittany Ferries has selected UM as its media planning and buying agency. Previously the shipping company used different agencies for its marketing across the UK, Ireland, France and Spain, but has now opted for a consolidated media model. The agency will offer paid media and marketing support for ferry crossings and holiday packages.

Gucci owner Kering Group has appointed iProspect to handle its global media planning and buying account. The Dentsu-owned agency took over from incumbent Zenith and will operate in the 42 markets in which Kering Group has a presence.

The International Airlines Group has hired Havas Media Group to handle the buying and planning for Iberia, Vueling, Level, and IAG Cargo. Carat and WPP previously worked with IAG on the accounts. The wider IAG review saw Omnicom Media Group landing the British Airways media account, beating Havas and incumbent WPP.

WPP has emerged victorious from one of the largest pitches of the year as Coca-Cola hands the lion’s share of its $4 billion account to the holding company. WPP will be the “global marketing network partner”, operating under a bespoke unit called OpenX, and will manage creative, media, data and marketing technology across Coca-Cola’s entire portfolio of brands and its global ventures, including Costa and Innocent. As Campaign reported in a Pitch Update ahead of the result, Coca-Cola appointed a second agency group on the account. Dentsu was named a “complementary media partner”, driving media in certain geographies such as Japan and Korea.

Google has consolidated its entire multi-billion global media account into Essence. Google has partnered with Essence for more than a decade on all digital and programmatic media buying, but the offline portion of the business has been managed by Omnicom Media Group (OMG). PHD handled the US business and OMD had the rest of the world. Essence already held about 80% of the business and the rest of the account was moved without a formal review in an effort by Google to simplify its agency relationships, according to sources.

Engine Creative's newly-formed social practice NGN LAB has won its first client – US based fitness provider Bowflex. The shop has been briefed to strengthen the brand in the UK, where it will compete with the likes of Peloton. NGN LAB will create a social-first UK launch for Bowflex via editorial storytelling and social commerce. Matthew Harrington, head of NGN LAB, said: "Digital fitness is one of the most exciting areas we could choose to work in right now. Covid has had an enormous impact on the way we work out and has amplified even further the importance of fitness and health."

Tribal Worldwide has been appointed by Switzerland-based Hero Group as its digital agency. The agency, which will work across brands including Baby Gourmet and, Hero Jams and Organix, is understood to have beaten Mediamonks in the final round. The incumbent agency was Burst in Amsterdam.

Holiday company Away Resorts has appointed MBAstack as its website agency without a pitch, after it pitched for the business two years ago. MBAstack will design, build and optimise the business’s e-commerce engine.

This article first appeared in Campaign.

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