MediaVest, the Publicis Groupe media shop, just received more bad news on the account front: It has just been fired by Walmart, one of its biggest accounts. The loss, confirmed by both agency and client, follows the recent departures of big pieces of MediaVest business from both Procter & Gamble and Coca-Cola.
The shop won the Walmart account nine years ago after a competitive review. The company spent more than $900 million on ads in the U.S. in 2014, according to Kantar Media.
It was not immediately clear what the impetus was for the parting of ways, and sources said MediaVest was taken completely by surprise.
However,Walmart recently brought on board a new U.S. CMO, Tony Rogers, and a former long-time Target marketing executive, Michael Francis, as strategic media and marketing advisor. High-level management changes at clients are often the catalyst for changes in the roster of agencies.
Sources speculated that Walmart is planning a major strategic shift in its media program, possibly bringing major components in-house, although a rep for the company would not confirm this. The Walmart rep also could not confirm whether a review was about to be launched or whether the firm plans to appoint a new agency without a review.
The company issued this statement: “We have made the decision to end our relationship with MediaVest. We thank them for their partnership over the past nine years. We are taking a different direction and looking for new ways to use media to connect with our customers.”
MediaVest higher-ups were said to have been informed of the decision in the last couple of days. It wasn’t clear how long the transition would take, but it is expected to be a couple of months at least, given the size of the account.
MediaVest issued the following statement: “We’re proud of the talent dedicated to this business and the award-winning, results-driven innovation we delivered for Walmart over the years. We continue to partner with Walmart as they transition to their new model and wish them the best in their future direction.”