Loblaw Companies Ltd. cancels creative agency review

Six weeks after starting a wide-reaching creative agency review, Loblaw Companies Ltd. has called off the search.

Participating agencies were notified this week that the RFP was cancelled, and told that Loblaw will be working with agencies on an “as needed” basis starting in the new year.

While the decision to cancel the review is an unusual one, some agency execs were surprised it had been moving forward at all after senior vice-president of marketing Meghan Nameth suddenly left the company shortly after initiating the search in late September.

When The Message first reported on the agency search and Nameth’s departure in mid-October, Loblaw confirmed the review would continue and said the goal of the RFP was “to streamline our agencies to ensure stronger relationship and brand knowledge.” It would not comment on Nameth’s departure, or how, or if, her departure would affect the review.

Since then, The Message has learned that long-time Loblaw marketer Mary MacIsaac had taken over the review. A Loblaw spokesperson declined to answer specific questions on Thursday, but reshared the message provided to agency execs: “We’re evolving our approach and therefore no longer proceeding with the RFP.  We’ll reach out to agencies as needed to support our marketing efforts in future.”

The review seemed to cover most if not all of Loblaw’s brands, with the initial invite document referring to all of its various categories: “grocery, pharmacy, health and beauty, apparel, general merchandise, banking and wireless mobile products and services.” However, Loblaw indicated it would divide the work amongst a number of agencies.

Loblaw has worked with a number of agencies in recent years, but John St. had been the most active with the Canada’s largest grocery retailer going back to 2014. Its work included the multi-award winning “Haulers” campaign for No Frills, along with quirky but breakthrough work to revitalize the No Name brand.  Loblaw also worked with Sid Lee Toronto for President’s Choice, and One Twenty Three West for Real Canadian Superstore.

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, including the current #HeyPC brand platform for President’s Choice.

However, Dave Wotherspoon, the long time senior creative director at the in-house agency, also announced on LinkedIn this week that he was leaving Loblaw.

David Brown