Coles goes to market for bespoke agency model

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Coles has asked three agency groups to respond to a request for a proposal (RFP) looking for a bespoke model that covers its creative, media and strategic accounts.

Omnicom Group, Publicis Groupe and WPP have been given the opportunity to respond to the RFP.

Coles has asked the agency groups to pitch based on operational capabilities, not on creative ideas.

Coles chief marketing officer Lisa Ronson said: “What the pandemic has shown us over the past two years is that we were able to have some of the best talent in the business come together to work with us to communicate with our customers across many channels during a very challenging time. It happened very organically, and we are so grateful to the team of strategic, creative and media minds from DDB, Big Red, TBWA and OMD who ensured our messaging was clear and meaningful at a time the country relied on important information delivered with empathy and in the Coles tone of voice.


“What this model has taught us is that we have the opportunity to power our customer-obsessed marketing model by marrying agency support with the customer problems we have prioritized, as well as supporting our increasing need for digital experiences and the brilliant store experiences that customers now expect.”

Coles general manager of brand, digital and design Samantha McLeod said: “The goal is to design a bespoke model of industry leaders from all disciplines. New thinking and our ambition requires new ways of working. It is exciting to see what can be achieved working as a network of experts rather than a group of different agencies. I’m looking forward to working with our partners to design a new approach so we can continue to inspire our customers.

“Coles has worked outstandingly with one partner in Big Red for the biggest part of the last 12 years. On behalf of Coles, we’d like to thank everyone at Big Red for the contribution they’ve made to Coles.”

Coles selected WCO as its media agency back in 2016. In March 2020, DDB and TBWA joined the agency roster for Coles supermarkets.

Big Red was responsible for the “Down Down” messaging with big red hands, featured in such campaigns as one with Casey Donovan in 2017 and a person in a chicken suit in 2016.

Ronson joined Coles back in January 2019 from Tourism Australia.

Big Red and DDB declined to comment.

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