M&S switches ad agency after 16 years

Marks & Spencer is moving its advertising business to Grey London, after 16 years with its previous agency, AKQA, who looked after digital, while its advertising was look after by Rainey Kelly Campbell Roalfe/Y&R.

Marks & Spencer is one of the most coveted campaign clients in the business, an account worth an estimated 60 million pounds per year, and will be a coup for Grey London, whose pitch beat agencies including VCCP, CHI & Partners and previous agency Rainey Kelly Campbell Roalfe/Y&R. According to CampaignLive, the pitch was open to agencies in which WPP (a British multinational advertising and public relations company) has a stake following intervention from chief executive Sir Martin Sorrell.

Bousquet-Chavanne, executive director of customer, marketing and M&S.com, said: "Putting our customers at the heart of everything we do is central to every decision we make as a business. Following the competitive pitch process we’re delighted to announce we’re working with Grey as our fully integrated agency. Grey will help us engage with customers across all our channels – in-store, digital and mobile and our members club – Sparks."

Grey London's CEO Leo Rayman, who was appointed in June, stated: “This is a defining moment… we’ve been after a marquee retailer for a number of years, and they don’t come more famed, more loved and bursting with opportunity than M&S. We’ve championed integration across our clients for a long time but in many ways this win is the zenith of it. To bring advertising and digital together under one roof for one of the biggest retailers in the country sets a new benchmark, not just for us but for the industry.

The decision is a major blow to RKCR/Y&R, which has already lost a number of major accounts in recent years including Virgin Atlantic, Lloyds, Vodafone (to Grey), Land Rover and Premier Inn.

Jon Sharpe, who took over from Ben Kay as chief executive of RKCR/Y&R in December last year, said: "We're sad to see the end of our 16-year creative partnership with M&S. Together, we undeniably built one of Britain’s most loved and iconic brands and consistently we created award-winning work that has redefined retail advertising.

"Having welcomed new talent and many great new clients through our doors this past year including TUI, Chanel and Premier League, we're looking forward to moving onwards and upwards. We wish M&S every success in future."

Photo credit: M&S Art of Christmas by RKCR, RKCR website