Coors Calls in Cavalry With New WPP Agency

Former DraftFCB Exec Marty Stock Tapped as CEO of Chicago Shop

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A little more than a month after MillerCoors moved its entire account out of DraftFCB, the WPP agency formed to house the Coors side of the business has opened up shop in Chicago and will be led by beer-marketing veteran Marty Stock.

Marty Stock
Marty Stock

Mr. Stock, who has been DraftFCB's exec VP-director of account management on the MillerCoors business, is now CEO of the new WPP entity dubbed Cavalry, which will handle creative and digital for Coors Light, Coors Banquet and any other new products. Mr. Stock is a career-long beer account exec, having worked on the business for 23 years at DraftFCB and predecessor agency Foote, Cone & Belding. Prior to his career at FCB, he worked at D'Arcy on Anheuser-Busch, and Y&R.

Cavalry will call in talent from WPP agencies Y&R, JWT, digital agency VML, branding firm Landor, as well as others, and will start with about 40 full-time employees, some of which will be new hires and some from within the WPP system. Cavalry will be the first to work on digital and creative together for Coors, with digital talent being drawn from VML. (Previously, digital had been handled by Razorfish and creative by DraftFCB.) Cavalry has not yet announced a creative executive.

"We see in Marty somebody who knows the beer business cold … and has a strong relationship with the client, but we also saw something about his ability to be a leader," said Global Business Development Director George Rogers at WPP, who masterminded the new agency. "What we wanted to do was put him in a situation where he can take what he's learned and what he's all about and build a great agency."

Of Mr. Stock's departure, DraftFCB said in a statement: "Our MillerCoors team collectively helped Coors Light topple Budweiser as the No. 2 beer in the U.S. and we appreciate Marty's role in leading and developing those people, many of whom have been reassigned to other accounts at Draftfcb. We wish Marty continued success."

Mr. Rogers said the new agency is essentially an extension of WPP's other client-specific agencies, such as Team Mazda and Team Detroit, the Ford agency that was on Ad Age 's Agency A-List in 2010. But for all WPP's success with its Ford agencies, it also had one shop, Enfatico, formed for Dell that did not fare very well. Mr. Rogers said that Cavalry's model is very different from ill-fated Enfatico's for a number of reasons, including the fact that Enfatico was formed and quickly racked up 1,000 employees.

Cavalry is not expected to significantly alter the creative positioning of Coors Light. The brand, which passed Budweiser last year as the nation's second-largest beer, has long used cold-refreshment messaging and imagery. The agency change was not a "referendum on the positioning of the brands," Mr. Rogers said.

Rather, MillerCoors seemed to be seeking stability and a deeper bench of creative talent, while looking to more seamlessly integrate digital and traditional creative. Questions have arisen over the last couple years about DraftFCB's creative chops after it gradually lost much of the U.S. Kraft business and SC Johnson, both longtime above-the-line FCB accounts.

"We are very excited to begin working with Cavalry," said MillerCoors Chief Marketing Officer Andy England in a statement to Ad Age . "We were looking to solve for two things: one was an above-the-line and digital integrated solution for the Coors family of brands, and the second was access to a very deep creative bench. We believe WPP via Cavalry addresses both of these critical pieces on our business. We are delighted that WPP has chosen to hire Marty Stock as the leader of Cavalry. His knowledge of beer advertising and deep understanding of the Coors family of brands is unparalleled."

The integration comes as the brewer, like other beer marketers, is putting a new emphasis on digital. "Thinking that everything comes out of TV is the wrong way but it's a rut that we were falling into," Mr. Stock said. Speaking about the new model, Jon Cook, CEO and president of digital agency VML, said: "When you know from the very beginning that your role is central … that 's a big factor."

Beer has historically lagged other categories in digital marketing partly because of concerns over age verification. But brewers are finding ways around those concerns, such as a new age-checking tool on Twitter that spurred MillerCoors to launch a new handle for Coors Light.

New products, which Cavalry will work on, are an emerging priority at MillerCoors as it seeks to win over fickle millennial consumers. "There's a willingness to try new things that 's probably greater than anything we've seen in the past," Mr. Stock said. The brewer is testing several new offerings this summer, for instance, including Coco Breve, a coconut water-infused clear malt beverage.

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