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    Exclusive: $20m Dulux media account up in the air amid Initiative exits

    DuluxGroup had chosen Mediabrands to handle its $20 million media account just days before Initiative’s key leadership defected to Accenture Song, Mediaweek can reveal.

    OMD Melbourne, the incumbent, has held the account for more than 30 years, and was last reappointed in 2020. Days after DuluxGroup made the decision to choose a new agency, Initiative‘s top brass – CEO Melissa Fein, managing director Sam Geer, and chief strategy and product officer Chris Colterlocked in their move to set up a media unit in Accenture Song.

    According to multiple industry sources, the account is now up in the air. In the likely event the contracts had yet to be signed, those sources speculate that Peter Horgan‘s Omnicom Media Group and OMD Melbourne would be fighting to keep, or extend, the relationship.

    If DuluxGroup commits to appointing Mediabrands, it would be the second 30-year media agency relationship Initiative has ended this year. In February, it won Crown Resorts, wrestling the account away from dentsu’s Carat after three decades.

    The DuluxGroup pitch was first reported on in March, spanning its portfolio: Dulux, Selleys, Yates, Cabot’s, B&D, and British Paints. At the time, a DuluxGroup spokesperson confirmed a decision would be made in early May, and said: “In fairness to all potential vendors, we are committed to strict confidentiality throughout this review process.”

    DuluxGroup, Mediabrands and Initiative, and OMD were contacted for comment. DuluxGroup’s creative account sits with OMD’s Omnicom stablemate, DDB Melbourne.

    The Fein, Colter, and Geer trio is a renowned pitch force, and Mediaweek understands all three were significantly involved in the DuluxGroup pitch. They are currently working out their notice periods at the agency.

    In an email to staff seen by Mediaweek, Mediabrands CEO Mark Coad wrote: “Suffice to say, Mel, Sam, and Colts are still very much part of Initiative’s team and will be working at their usual high-octane and professional pace over the next few weeks/months. They have been very respectful and will give the agency and its clients their time and expertise to ensure a smooth transition.”

    When news of Fein, Geer, and Colter’s exit swept the industry, sources told Mediaweek that conversations began when Accenture Song was pitching for Telstra’s account, which was ultimately won by +61, the bespoke model made up of TBWA, Bear Meets Eagle On Fire, and OMD.

    In 2022, Accenture Strong created a media alliance with Initiative to pitch for the Coles account; it ultimately went to Omnicom’s solution, Smith St.

    Initiative recently lost Afterpay to indie Kaimera, and Specsavers is up for pitch, but it has won Sanitarium, Fantastic Furniture, and Priceline in addition to Crown Resorts.

    Last year, OMD took out the top spot in COMvergence’s global new business barometer.

    The post Exclusive: $20m Dulux media account up in the air amid Initiative exits appeared first on Mediaweek.

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