A Heineken spokeswoman said Bartle Bogle will join an international roster of agencies. That eclectic group includes digital shop AKQA; WPP Group's Asia network Bates 141; London start-up Red Brick Road; and TBWA/Brand Experience Co., based in Amstelveen, the Netherlands, near Heineken's Dutch headquarters.
She said no lead agency or agency of record had been designated for the brand, but there are other indications that Bartle Bogle will play a prominent role going forward.
Heineken asked Bartle Bogle and Red Brick Road to work on a paid-for project looking at strategy for the global brand back in the summer. The project was effectively a five-month pitch, and Bartle Bogle prevailed. The international work is worth an estimated $60 million, although it's unclear if that is for Bartle Bogle alone or includes the rest of the international agency roster.
The appointment does not affect Heineken's efforts in the U.S., where Wieden & Kennedy remains Heineken's agency of record. Wieden's status on the account has been the subject of some speculation because, since taking over the brand late last year, it has yet to produce a campaign, although executives have indicated that one is forthcoming.
Conflict of interest in U.S.
Bartle Bogle will also be frozen out of handling the brand in the U.S. by a conflict, as its New York office is the agency of record for Heineken rival SABMiller's Miller Lite.
"We're aware of it and have been assured it will not impact North America," said a Miller spokesman.
Ben Fennell, CEO of Bartle Bogle in London, said: "The level of creative and commercial ambition in Amsterdam and around the Heineken world is really energizing. There is something uniquely challenging and independent about Heineken's brand and business DNA."
Bartle Bogle has had global success with another alcoholic beverage, Diageo's Johnnie Walker. The agency's long-running "Keep Walking" campaign for the Scotch whisky brand was a big winner in the U.K.'s recent advertising effectiveness awards, where the agency's work was credited with boosting sales 48% during the eight years of the global campaign.