One of the most lucrative – and certainly one of the longest – media pitches in recent memory, Toyota’s spend in Australia, has entered the final stretch with reports it’s now down to three nervous agencies.
The pitch, that began this time last year, is said to be at the “last pricing from procurement has been called” stage according to one of B&T’s moles.
B&T understands the final three agencies left in the hunt to snare the $100 million annual account are the incumbent The Media Store, Publicis’ Spark Foundry and GroupM’s MediaCom.
Since B&T last reported on the pitch three weeks ago, it’s understood Dentsu’s Carat has dropped out of the race, despite the Japanese holding company’s close ties to the Japanese carmaker.
IPG’s UM – who coincidentally saw its CEO, Fiona Johnston, depart for an overseas posting yesterday – is said to be no longer in the hunt despite having Toyota’s luxury marque, Lexus, on the books.
A Toyota Australia spokesperson has previously told B&T that it won’t make any official comment to media while the pitch is ongoing.
According to B&T’s mole, the race for the business is neck-and-neck between The Media Store and Publicis’ Spark Foundry with the latter the narrow favourite.
B&T had previously reported that Publicis had mooted the idea of establishing a bespoke, standalone agency if it were to win the Toyota account. However, Publicis vehemently denied the rumour.
Publicis Australia apparently enlisted a very senior client lead out of its US offices to work on the local pitch. The unnamed chap reportedly goes by the nickname “the Toyota God” and manages all the media and relationships with Toyota’s Tokyo head office. He was apparently due in Australia, however, COVID ultimately dented those plans.
Publicis and Spark Foundry declined B&T’s offer to comment on this article.
Adding weight to Publicis’ – and Spark Foundry’s cause – is that Toyota’s creative in Australia is handled by Saatchi & Saatchi, part of the Publicis group, and would continue the current fashion of many major brands of preferring their media and creative be under the one roof.
Another industry heavyweight told B&T that “Rebelo is in the middle of the fairway” when it came to the pitch. A golfing analogy that inferred Publicis’ Australian CEO, Michael Rebelo, was in the best position to snare the business.
That said, no-one is ruling out incumbent, The Media Store’s, chances either. Reports suggest it’s done nothing wrong to warrant losing it.
The other chance is GroupM’s MediaCom who, by all reports, have put forward an impressive case. However, it too has declined B&T’s opportunity to make further comment.
Whatever the outcome, there’s sure to be some nervous CEOs waiting on the result. There’s been few significant pitches since COVID decimated things 12 months ago and certainly not one the size of Toyota’s has landed on agency boardroom tables for some time.
There’s even been rumours that “heads would roll” if the agency weren’t to secure the win.
B&T understands the announcement is imminent, but again, no clear deadline has been set.
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