Diageo Moves Smirnoff Advertising Business to JWT

Leaves BBH, Citing Conflict With Brewer InBev

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NEW YORK (AdAge.com) -- In a move that underscores the mounting rivalry between spirits and beer, Diageo has taken the unusual step of shifting global creative duties for its Smirnoff brands from Publicis Groupe's Bartle Bogle Hegarty, citing a conflict with brewer InBev.
Diageo spent $36 million in measured media for its Smirnoff brands last year.
Diageo spent $36 million in measured media for its Smirnoff brands last year.

Diageo is consolidating its global Smirnoff business with WPP Group's JWT, the spirits marketer said in a statement. The brands involved in the U.S. include Smirnoff Ice, Ice Triple Black, Twisted V and Raw Tea. JWT already handled global creative duties for the vodka.

Diageo spent $36 million in measured media for the Smirnoff products in the U.S. in 2005, according to TNS Media Intelligence.

Conflict policy review
The statement said the change came following a review of its conflict policy. "As a result, BBH and Diageo have agreed that the Smirnoff [ready-to-drink] and [the flavored-malt-beverage] business should be reassigned, allowing BBH to continue a decades-old relationship with a competing beer company and pursue more beer brand assignments."

BBH is on InBev's roster, and handles its Boddington's and Murphy's brands. The agency was recently a finalist in the Beck's review that was won by Ground Zero.

BBH and other brands
BBH will continue to handle Diageo's Johnnie Walker and Baileys Original Irish Cream.

"JWT has been a great partner and their work has been integral to helping us drive Smirnoff vodka to become the No. 1 premium spirit in the world," James Thompson, president-global marketing, white spirits and ready-to-drink, said in the statement. "The team has a clear understanding of the Smirnoff brand and created the fantastic 'Clearly Smirnoff' global advertising campaign for Smirnoff vodka."
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