Publicis Groupe's Spark Picks Up Taco Bell's Media Planning

Buying Will Remain With WPP's MEC

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Publicis Groupe 's Spark is the new agency responsible for Taco Bell's media planning after a review, according to people familiar with the matter.

The planning piece of the business was previously handled by Interpublic's DraftFCB, which still handles much of the chain's creative business. Media agencies from multiple holding companies, including Interpublic, Publicis and WPP, were said to be vying for the planning business, according to one person familiar with the matter. WPP's MEC remains the chain's media-buying agency. Consultancy SRI oversaw the review.

Brian Niccol, Taco Bell chief marketing and innovation officer
Brian Niccol, Taco Bell chief marketing and innovation officer

"The Spark team, led by Chris Boothe, brings a unique balance of strategic insights, in-depth research resources with a creative media approach across entertainment, sports and emerging media platforms, enabling Taco Bell to be even more effective in reaching and engaging with our target consumers," said Brian Niccol, chief marketing and innovation officer, in a statement to Ad Age .

Taco Bell has been making incremental changes to its roster recently. Digitas was named the chain's digital agency (including digital media planning) in July after a review. Digital had been at DraftFCB as well, though it had bounced between DraftFCB and sibling digital agency R/GA in recent years. Ad Age reported in September that executives familiar with the Taco Bell account said that other roster agencies and Interpublic shops are being considered for additional potential Taco Bell assignments.

Chris Boothe, Spark CEO
Chris Boothe, Spark CEO

Spark, part of Publicis Groupe 's Starcom MediaVest Group, was spun off earlier this year into its own agency network -- Publicis's third after Starcom and MediaVest. Starcom Chief Operating Officer Chris Boothe became Spark's CEO; since then, the spin-off agency has picked up business such as Orbitz's media buying, as well as duties for Hyatt Hotels and Warby Parker.

Taco Bell is the largest and most profitable Yum Brands chain in the U.S., and the company allocates advertising and marketing spending accordingly. Last year, Yum spent $250.5 million on Taco Bell, about $220 million on Pizza Hut and $200 million on KFC, according to Ad Age 's DataCenter. DraftFCB also handles advertising for KFC; sibling Interpublic agency Martin handles advertising for Pizza Hut.


Contributing: Alexandra Bruell

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