A correction has been made in this story. See below for details.
Pizza Hut is gearing up for a media-agency review, according to multiple industry executives. WPP-owned MEC, which has handled the business for more than 10 years, plans to defend.
According to people close to the situation, Pizza Hut will issue a formal request for proposal within the next two weeks. A consultant has been tapped to help manage the process, these people noted.
Pizza Hut did not respond to a request for comment before press time.
The review follows Pizza Hut's recent consolidation of its creative and digital marketing duties within Interpublic Group of Cos.' Martin Agency, which it began working with in 2009. Whether the chain is looking to park media duties at Interpublic as well remains to be seen.
MEC, which handles traditional and digital media-planning and -buying duties, referred inquiries about the pitch to the client but told Ad Age it has been invited to defend the account. It will surely fight hard to keep the business, as two of its other accounts, Novartis and Toys 'R Us, are also in review. MEC also recently parted ways with Activision.
According to Kantar Media, the brand spent $217 million in the US in 2010, up 9.7% from the prior year.
In 2010, Pizza Hut reported an 8% increase in U.S. same-store sales. Those sales then fell 3% in the first-quarter 2011.
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CORRECTION: A previous version of this story said Pizza Hut aired its first Super Bowl ad promoting the brand in 2011. Pizza Hut sold its 30-second ad back to Fox in the most recent Super Bowl, and decided to shift that time to focus on pre-game ordering.