Jaguar Land Rover is close to appointing Dentsu as its global Media agency, a move that would end its longstanding relationship with incumbent Mindshare, The Drum understands.
The car giant is believed to have reached the final stages of the review and began exclusive talks with Dentsu.
A spokesperson for Jaguar Land Rover declined to comment, telling The Drum that the review is still underway and that "no final decision has been made."
Incumbent agency Mindshare, which has held the brief since 2000, declined to comment as did Dentsu Aegis.
The review was called in February 2017, with the luxury car brand stating at the time it was looking to reappraise its media planing and buying strategy as part of its standard procurement process.
The decision to call a review notably coincided with the YouTube brand safety furore that resulted as part of an exposé series by the Times' investigative team, which documented several high profile brands' ads being served against militant content on the video sharing network.
While Jaguar was one of the brands affected by the documented ad misplacement – with an investigation by the Times finding an ad for an F-Pace next to a video endorsing the Islamic State – the juxtaposition of the two revelations are understood to be purely coincidental.
Commenting at the time, a spokesperson from Jaguar Land Rover said that any wholesale changes to its media plans were "unconnected" and that the plan had been in place for "some time".
The loss of the 17-year Jaguar relationship for Mindshare comes amid a sea of change for its WPP-owned parent firm, Group M.
Earlier this year, sister media and performance marketing outfit [email protected] was folded into Mindshare, with the play coming just a few weeks after Group M announced it was to merge MEC and Maxus to fund the expansion of digital agency Essence.
In 2015, Jaguar consolidated its global creative and digital accounts into Spark 44, the joint venture agency in which it has a 50% stake; previously these responsibilities had been divided between a number of agencies including Young & Rubicam and Ogilvy.
The car marque's earmarked shift to Dentsu Aegis bookends a year of turbulence for media and digital agencies following a series of troubling headlines around brand safety, transparency, accountability and rebate practices.
In the UK, the issues have prompted 43% of chief marketing officers to review their agency contracts.
However, recent eMarketer research suggested that despite the potential pitfalls of automated media trading a total of £3.39bn is poised to be spent on programmatic ads by the end of 2017.