Loblaw running creative agency review, but who is leading it?

Loblaw Companies Ltd., one of the largest retail marketers in Canada, has begun a creative agency review that seemingly includes most, if not all, of its brands—from Loblaw, No Frills and Shoppers Drug Mart, to Joe Fresh, No Name and President’s Choice.

The review, described as “huge” by one agency executive, could have a ripple effect across the industry, and with such a wide scope of categories, conflicts would seemingly be an issue for many. The initial invite document to agencies said that Loblaw provides Canadians with “grocery, pharmacy, health and beauty, apparel, general merchandise, banking and wireless mobile products and services.” However, Loblaw also plans to divide the work amongst a number of agencies.

The review has also presented an early twist for interested agencies: Though the agency search only began in late September, with the invitation coming from senior vice-president Meghan Nameth (pictured), industry executives confirmed to The Message that Nameth has parted ways with the company since it was announced. (Reached on LinkedIn over the weekend, Nameth declined to comment.)

In an email to The Message on Monday morning, a Loblaw spokesperson said only that the goal of the RFP is “to streamline our agencies to ensure stronger relationship and brand knowledge.” The spokesperson did not comment when asked specifically about Nameth’s departure, or how or if it would affect the review.

Nameth’s first letter to potentially interested agencies said that Loblaw was looking for a “small pool of agencies” for a three-year mandate. It is looking for a fast speed to market model and “less internal management time.” It’s interested in a partnership to find cost efficiencies by leveraging Loblaw’s buying power, and provide access to “creative talent, resources and global insights” for Loblaw’s industries.

Going back to 2014, when it was awarded President’s Choice, much of the Loblaw creative has been led by John St. That includes the multi-award winning “Haulers” campaign for No Frills, along with quirky but breakthrough work to revitalize the No Name brand. John St. confirmed it is taking part in the review but did not provide any other comment.

Loblaw has worked with other creative partners since then, however, with Sid Lee Toronto taking on assignments for President’s Choice, and One Twenty Three West taking lead on Real Canadian Superstore.

On top of that, Loblaw’s long-time top marketer Uwe Stueckmann, who left the company early this year, had been building up an in-house agency which seemed to be taking on a larger role of late. According to the Loblaw spokesperson, the company is still “building out the in-house agency, but will continue to partner with external support.”

Nameth, meanwhile, only joined Loblaw in January 2021 after less than 18 months as senior vice-president and CMO at Hudson’s Bay Company. Prior to that, she spent time at PwC, where she was focused on data and analytics. She succeeded Stueckmann as Loblaw’s most senior marketer and brand leader after his surprise departure in February.

David Brown