Publicis out of Coles pitch, internal marketers rallied for Big Red return, now out again

Coles’ search for a bespoke agency solution is down to two, as Publicis Groupe was told last week it would not be the chosen provider. Mumbrella also understands after its initial decision, Big Red was invited back as part of a ‘special tender’ on production capabilities.

After it emerged last week the solution being presented by Accenture Song included a collaboration with Mediabrands agency Initiative for its media buying and planning capabilities, the pairing has outlasted Publicis’s ‘Power of One’ presentation, to join Omnicom in the final two.

Big Red’s Big Red Hand

Mumbrella understands the Omnicom solution was presented a fortnight ago, and was fronted by incumbents OMD, DDB and TBWA.

Mumbrella also understands after the initial statement from Coles in March that it would be ending its relationship with creative agency, Big Red, the internal marketing team were “up in arms” regarding the decision not to include the agency in the pitch, stating that the removal of Big Red’s capabilities would “impact their work”, according to a source.

Mumbrella has reached out to Coles for comment. Big Red told Mumbrella no one was available to make a comment.

As a result of the internal sentiments, Big Red was invited back on a ‘special tender’ only open to the agency in relation to production and a range of creative services, such as the day-to-day marketing output for the retail giant.

Alongside Publicis, Big Red then found out last week it was unsuccessful with its presentation to stay on the Coles agency roster last Friday.

Publicis has experienced recent success with its Power of One model, with integrated wins for Lexus, Johnson & Johnson, Subway and Toyota over the last year.

Mumbrella also understands as part of the main RFP – as not all competing groups held end-to-end production capabilities – the competing agencies were asked to present how they would provide Coles’ full marketing needs without end-to-end, as well as how it would deal with working with an in-house team or third party, presumably referring to Big Red.

The current contract for Coles’ agency services ends at the end of the year, with the eventual winner beginning the transition on 1 January 2023. The incumbents will continue to work with Coles until that date.

Accenture Song was invited to the RFP after WPP was asked to withdraw from consideration, citing a conflict over work with Woolworths.

Big Red was responsible for the “Down Down” messaging with big red hands, featured in such campaigns as one with Casey Donovan in 2017 and a person in a chicken suit in 2016.


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