360i Wins Media Planning and Buying for Pernod Ricard USA

Assignment Also Includes Social Media Management

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Pernod Ricard USA has selected Dentsu's 360i to handle media planning and buying, as well as other strategic work including social media management.

"Our decision to select 360i came down to our confidence in the quality of the team, as well as their data-driven brand insights and sales-building ideas. We also felt they had a strong vision for the new media landscape," Pierre Berard, senior VP of marketing for Pernod Ricard USA, said in a statement to Ad Age. The company declined to reveal other agencies it considered. 360i declined to comment.

The consultant on the competitive pitch was Joanne Davis Consulting. The incumbent on the media business was Dentsu's Vizeum, which will remain on Pernod's roster. "360i will oversee integrated planning while leveraging the Vizeum media buying platform and expertise for select traditional media buying," a Pernod spokesman said.

The liquor marketer, whose brands include Absolut, Jameson and Malibu, spent $39.4 million on measured media in 2013, according to Kantar Media.

While 360i is known for its digital work, the agency has found success of late pitching for broader responsibilities, and the Pernod win adds more momentum to that strategy. The agency last year took over media planning and buying for Equifax as part of a pitch that also included communications strategy, search marketing and cross-channel analytics, and handles media planning and buying for Toyota's corporate branding.

The win also gives 360i another alcohol client. The shop recently took on global digital insights and strategy for Anheuser-Busch InBev and is the social agency of record in the U.S. for Smirnoff and Guinness. Smirnoff and Guinness are owned by Diageo, a direct competitor of Pernod Ricard, so conflict concerns could emerge with the new win.

Pernod Ricard, whose global headquarters are in Paris, reported a 7% global sales decline for its 2013-14 fiscal year, which ended in June. The company plans to cut about 900 jobs globally, according to published reports.

In the U.S., the marketer is pushing a new premium Absolut line extension called Absolut Elyx. Pernod is also expected to use its Jameson brand to take "direct aim" at Brown-Forman's Jack Daniel's, financial analyst ISI Group recently reported.

On Tuesday, Pernod announced that its Kahlua brand is partnering with actor Jeff Bridges to release "The White Russian," which it described as a "Kahlua Productions short film honoring the classic cocktail."

Mr. Bridges will narrate and star in the short film, in which he "recounts an adventure-filled story with twists and turns for the characters, all while sipping on a classic White Russian cocktail." The film, which was directed by Ivan Zacharias, will debut on Sept. 9 in Hollywood when Mr. Bridges will attend a private screening with fans, according to the brand.

The White Russian was featured prominently in the 1998 film "The Big Lebowski," starring Mr. Bridges.

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