PepsiCo pulls Walkers task out of MediaVest

PepsiCo has moved its £25m media buying account for Walkers Snacks and Quaker cereals out of MediaVest and into OMD UK, as part of an ongoing global alignment of advertising business within the Omnicom Group.

The decision is understood to be based primarily on price, and the crisps producer is not planning any significant change to its media strategy, which is heavily focused on television. However, Walkers is understood to have looked closely at OMD's strategic planning capabilities.

Jim Marshall, MediaVest chief executive, said his agency was merely asked to submit tenders to PepsiCo's procurement team, rather than present media strategies to marketing heads. "We did not repitch for it, unless you consider filling in spreadsheets with prices a repitch."

However, OMD UK managing director Steve Williams said OMD did pitch strategy to marketers within Walkers and Quaker, and claimed the decision was "very much a UK decision rather than a global PepsiCo or Frito-Lay one".

MediaVest's Marshall admitted to being hurt by the loss, given that MediaVest had held the account for the past ten years, a period of substantial success for Walkers. "We were there right at the start of the development of the Gary Lineker campaign, and we genuinely believe we have been of some considerable assistance in helping Walkers grow its business."

PepsiCo moved the $575m (£371m) US broadcast-buying business for all of its brands into Frito-Lay and Pepsi soft drinks incumbent OMD in October last year. The UK decision is believed to be the next stage in the food giant's global rationalisation of agencies. Alignment of its creative accounts into Omnicom Group agencies kicked off five years ago, when Abbott Mead Vickers BBDO picked up the Walkers creative business from BMP DDB.

The ongoing realignment strategy raises a question mark over the future of the Quaker creative business, worth £7.5m in advertising spend. Quaker is the only UK-based PepsiCo subsidiary not within Omnicom, with its advertising created by Rainey Kelly Campbell Roalfe/Y&R, part of WPP. Tropicana is now handled by BMP DDB, and Pepsi by AMV BBDO.

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