American Express to put global media business up for review, posing new challenges for WPP
- American Express is putting its global media business up for review after 20 years working WPP's Mindshare agency, a spokesperson for the credit card company confirmed to Adweek. It will be the company's first review of its global media business in over a decade, the publication said.
- American Express will likely issue an RFP for its media planning and buying and invite incumbent agencies to pitch, the spokesperson told Adweek. Mindshare first won American Express' media buying account from Ogilvy two decades ago and has defended those duties before, including against challenges from IPG's Initiative and Dentsu's Carat 13 years ago.
- American Express spent about $300 million on measured media in the U.S. in 2017, less than the $500 million it spent in 2016 and the $400 million it spent in 2015, according to Kantar Media data cited by Adweek. The brand has made major leadership changes recently, naming Stephen Squeri as CEO and Elizabeth Rutledge as CMO in February.
American Express' decision puts WPP in an even more precarious position as speculations grow that the agency holding company — the largest in the world — could be broken up amid continued poor business performance, the loss of major brand clients and also leadership departures, as longtime CEO Martin Sorrell suddenly stepped down in April.
Last month, Ford also confirmed it was putting part of its advertising account up for review after decades working with WPP. The automaker generated more than $500 million in annual revenue for the ad giant, according to some estimates. WPP has in recent years lost major clients, including AT&T and Volkswagen. American Express in 2017 also moved much of its creative work to Dentsu's McGarryBowen after working with WPP's Ogilvy for decades.
Traditional agencies like WPP are facing challenges from digital disruption, along with greater competition from boutique shops and newer marketing service providers like consultancies. Several major brands have also started to considerably cut back on the number of agencies they work with to boost savings and streamline their marketing operations.
American Express has focused heavily on digital, being one of the first companies to delve into programmatic ad buying, and it has made an effort to take more control over its programmatic campaigns, according to Adweek. It unveiled a new brand platform in April called "Powerful Backing: Don’t Do Business/Don’t Live Life Without It" that focuses on how people balance their work and personal lives. The campaign was supported by heavy buys across digital channels, including social media, mobile and podcasts.