UPDATE: Oct. 12, 2018: This story was updated to include additional information about the extent of PepsiCo's severed relationship with VMLY&R.
- American Express has selected IPG's Universal McCann as its new media agency of record after finalizing a global media review launched in May, according to Adweek. The financial services firm is parting ways with WPP's Mindshare, which worked on its media business for roughly 20 years. It used an RFP process for the review, which Adweek reported placed equal weight on brand building, performance and data. The company also conducted in-depth tests of agencies' data capabilities, sources told the publication.
- Publicis' Digitas, a partner of AmEx for more than 25 years, lost the company's digital planning and buying business following the review, though it will maintain digital creative responsibilities, which are reportedly more significant in terms of revenue. Universal McCann will handle all planning and buying work, and partner with AmEx's creative agencies to promote the brand's "Powerful Backing" platform.
- VML, another WPP agency, lost a client this week in PepsiCo's Gatorade, which dropped the firm as digital AOR after eight years of working together, Ad Age reported. Adweek in a separate report said that PepsiCo has overall ended its relationship, including for other brands like Tropicana, with VMLY&R, the recently formed entity combining VML with Young & Rubicam. In a statement to Ad Age, a Gatorade spokesperson said the brand will "be evaluating a differentiated model within the digital space" as it forges ahead into next year, though she did not elaborate on what that would look like or if the sports drink marketer was searching for an agency replacement.
Two major client losses cap off an already tough week for WPP, which is broadly trying to adjust course under freshly-minted CEO Mark Read. On Monday, Ford announced the selection of BBDO as its new lead creative agency following a global review started earlier in the year, dropping a good deal of work with decades-long partner WPP.
Along with the change in creative partners, the automaker claimed it would launch a new agency model with more than 100 in-house marketers. For years, Ford had worked with a dedicated WPP agency, GTB, on these duties, but that unit will now handle activation and media buying and planning, among other things. The Drum, reporting on Ford's agency switch-up, noted how big a blow the loss of work might be to GTB, which is headquartered near the car company's corporate campus in Michigan, and employs more than 3,000 people across six continents.
VMLY&R losing PepsiCo also comes at a particularly inopportune time. WPP, under Read's stewardship, recently decided to consolidate the shop with Young & Rubicam to form VMLY&R. Prior to the announcement, Read had resisted the idea of agency consolidation, instead favoring building "stronger creative agencies with digital capabilities."
Major brands, including AmEx, are rethinking their marketing structures as they strive to cut costs and improve transparency and marketing personalization. Many marketers have become frustrated with large agencies' data capabilities and ability to adapt to emerging technology. AmEX CMO Elizabeth Rutledge said Universal McCann was selected for its media, technology, data and insights abilities, and its dedication to embracing teams with diverse backgrounds and perspectives, per Adweek.
The AmEx media account is the first major win for IGP since it acquired Acxiom's data-marketing division for $2.3 billion this summer, according to Adweek. The unit specializes in data housing and managing for businesses, including financial firms. AmEx previously worked with Acxiom, which assisted in the release of its Predictive Intent Segments to help target marketing messages, Adweek said.