The 10 biggest account moves of 2020
Here's something everyone loves to follow: the money trail.
This year caused a lot of upheaval, and agency-of-record contracts were certainly not spared. While we heard reviews were coming to standstills during the first few months of the COVID-19 outbreak, the industry would soon find this wouldn't last. In June, new business activity began to pick up once more and the pandemic, it seems, might have even opened some brands' eyes as to who they want and can trust in their corner during a crisis—causing even more business to change hands.
Of course, there were also some significant AOR shake-ups before COVID-19 that are worth mentioning. Here are 10 of the most monumental account shifts of the year.
Are you in good hands?
Allstate hired Accenture Interactive-owned Droga5 in April as its lead creative agency following a review that involved Wieden+Kennedy. The shift came several months after Allstate cut ties with Leo Burnett, its creative partner of more than 60 years. In September, Droga5 debuted its first work for the insurance giant that gave it a quirkier tone and ditched its long-running Mayhem character.
One for the little guy
Perhaps the most shocking account move of 2020 was Domino’s Pizza's shift to independent agency WorkInProgress from MDC Partners' CPB, because it cited as the reason the shop's holding company parentage. "I really feel that the independent agency model gives us more flexibility and less distractions,” said Domino’s Chief Marketing Officer Art D’Elia. Turns out Domino's might not be alone in that thinking, as several brands shifted from a holding company to an independent partner this year.
Cashing in a new partner
Visa concluded a four-month global review by splitting its ad business between Wieden+Kennedy and Publicis Groupe. W+K now leads creative strategy and major initiatives while Publicis continues to handle media duties and will assist local marketing efforts. The decision ended Visa's partnership with BBDO, which previously handled creative campaigns including its recent Olympics work that switched from promotions of the Games to messages of safety around the coronavirus.
Novo Nordisk changes hands
Danish pharmaceutical company Novo Nordisk sent its lucrative $400 million media account to WPP's Wavemaker, taking that business from Publicis, which serviced it through a bespoke team. The appointment followed a review that kicked off in January, just months before the global shutdown.
Kraft's pantry raid
Kraft Heinz, which was under new leadership when the pandemic hit, launched both media and creative reviews this year.
In August, the food giant decided to keep its U.S. media business with Publicis Groupe, led by its 20-year partner Starcom. Then in November, the company announced Johannes Leonardo would lead creative for Oscar Mayer, Kraft macaroni and cheese and Kraft Singles. The shop replaced Dentsu McGarryBowen on Oscar Mayer, a significant blow to the Dentsu-owned agency that had worked on the brand for years. Kraft Heinz said it would be leaning on a smaller roster of agencies to work on some of its other brands.
Goodby picks up Panera
Panera Bread ended its six-year partnership with Anomaly in March, just about a week before the global shutdown, and decided to move on with a project from Goodby, Silverstein & Partners. Panera hired Anomaly as its creative agency in 2014. Not long after the breakup, Anomaly became the first agency to announce layoffs, blaming the pandemic, followed by a string of other shops.
VMLY&R gets the inside track on Intel
Also in March, Intel chose WPP's VMLY&R as its global creative agency of record following a six-month internal review process. The Santa Clara, Calif.-based tech company said at the time that agencies across "the WPP portfolio" will also be tapped to support its global creative business. The decision took a majority of the business from incumbent creative AOR Dentsu Mcgarrybowen, which was said to have retained Intel's global social account.
Gains and losses
In another win for WPP, the holding company led by Mindshare landed WW International's North American media business in June following a review. Incumbent Horizon Media handled WW's U.S. media planning and buying account for the previous 10 years, dealing it a considerable blow. But all was not lost as just three months after the departure of WW, Horizon was able to gain back a weight-loss client. In September, Horizon Next was awarded TV media AOR responsibilities for Jenny Craig.
TikTok shakes up media
TikTok, the video-sharing app glorified by Gen Z, once again shifted its media account in August by appointing Publicis Media's Zenith to lead its global planning and buying business. That decision saw the end of its partnership with incumbent Omnicom Media Group's PHD, which won the business only in August of last year. TikTok has bounced around between agency partners for both creative and media since, really, since it got its start in the U.S. Before PHD, TikTok worked with Interpublic Group of Cos.' Initiative in the U.S. on a project basis. Its creative agencies have included RPA, Channel, Sid Lee and Adam&Eve.
Droga5 emerges as top dog
Accenture Interactive-owned Droga5 picked up Petco's creative account without a review in November, taking the business from Anomaly. That marked another loss for the MDC Partners shop, which also saw the exit of its Coke business to Wieden+Kennedy in August as well as the aforementioned Panera Bread account to GS&P. On the other hand, Petco added to a string of wins for Droga5 that included Maserati and Allstate.