Asda appoints Havas to advertising account

Asda has hired Havas London as its creative agency after a “highly competitive” pitch.

Havas London beat a Publicis Groupe team led by Leo Burnett in the final stage of the process. The incumbent, Abbott Mead Vickers BBDO, and FCB Inferno were involved earlier in the review.

Eildih MacAskill, vice president of creative and marketing at Asda, said: “We are looking for a true partner agency that understands the Asda personality and can bring this to life for our customers and the communities we serve.

“The Havas team’s strategic thinking and creativity really stood out and we look forward to working with them.”

The win is a boon for Havas London and its award-winning management team. Xavier Rees, chief executive, was named Head of Agency (Creative/Advertising) of the Year, and Vicki Maguire, chief creative officer, claimed Creative Person of the Year at the 2020 Campaign Agency of the Year Awards in March.

Rees said: “Asda is an iconic brand that deserves brilliant advertising and we can’t wait to roll our sleeves up and get stuck in.”

Maguire said: “Asda are part of our culture and our community. We’re beyond excited to become part of the Asda family”. 

Abbott Mead Vickers BBDO, which previously worked with Sainsbury’s for 35 years up to 2016, won the account in 2018 and introduced the character Sonny to the supermarket’s advertising. 

MacAskill said: “We would also like to recognise the AMV team for their fantastic work and partnership over the last three years in helping us land some memorable campaigns, and we wish them all the best in the future.”

AMV took over the Asda business from Saatchi & Saatchi, who had the account between 2016 and 2018 (as well as from 2009 to 2013). VCCP was Asda’s ad partner between 2013 and 2016.

Asda’s media planning and buying is done by Publicis Groupe’s Spark Foundry. Its predecessor Blue 449 won the media assignment alongside Saatchis in 2016 but retained it when the creative moved to AMV.

Asda’s review followed a change of ownership, after parent company Walmart sold a majority stake in October to the EG Group founders, brothers Mohsin and Zuber Issa, and private equity firm TDR Capital in a £6.8bn deal.

It is also currently without a chief customer officer, after Anna-Maree Shaw, who relocated from Australia shortly before the start of the pandemic, took the decision in December to return home to her family. MacAskill is leading marketing in the interim alongside chief strategy officer Preyash Thakrar.