Beam Hands Cruzan Rum Account to Fallon

Win Is Another Sign that Agency Is Back on the Rise

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CHICAGO ( -- Beam Global has tapped Publicis' Fallon Worldwide to work on its Cruzan Rum brand. A Beam spokeswoman confirmed that Fallon is doing what she described as "preliminary" work on Cruzan, which has received about $2 million per year in media support during the past two years. There was no previous agency of record.

Cruzan Rum

Minneapolis-based Fallon was Beam's primary agency during most of the 1990s, handling 21 different brands between 1989 and 1998. But the client and agency split in late 1998 due to "strategic differences that are irreconcilable," as Fallon Chairman Pat Fallon put it back then.

Much has changed since. Fallon, a fast-growing independent hotshop at the time, has since been acquired by Publicis, said goodbye to clients such as BMW, United Airlines and Lee Jeans, and seen its annual revenue fall by more than half. Beam, for its part, is a lot bigger, having doubled in size through acquisitions, and it now ranks as the No. 4 global distiller.

An unusual brand
Cruzan is an unusual mega-brand within spirits because it spans such a broad price spectrum, with flavored rums costing less than $12 per bottle to $50-and-up single-barrel offerings. It isn't clear which of these will be the focus of Fallon's efforts.

Rum marketers have generally found getting traction at any price point above the premium level dominated by Bacardi, Malibu and Captain Morgan to be a challenge, and that has likely become more difficult now that the recession has prompted drinkers to look for cheaper beverages. Sales of super-premium rums fell 9.5% last year off a small base, while high-end premium labels also declined slightly. Total rum sales grew 6%, however, a sign that cheaper offerings still have the momentum within the category.

For Fallon, the assignment is the latest evidence that the agency is pulling out of a harrowing freefall. In addition to Cruzan, the agency was also recently tapped by Charter Communications to create a series of TV spots the marketer will air when it emerges from bankruptcy later this summer. Other wins include Boston Market, Abu Dhabi Bank, Alpo and General Mills' Totinos, all of which have landed at the shop since former Saatchi executive Chris Foster took over as CEO last winter.

The agency also snared a Gold Design Lion last month at Cannes Ad Festival for Skimmer, a "life-streaming" application that lets users manage multiple social-media platforms with a single interface.

Beam Global's primary creative agencies are Energy BBDO and Publicis.

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