Liquor giant Diageo has yanked creative advertising from CP&B for Jose Cuervo, the biggest tequila brand in the U.S., and put the account in review, according to people familiar with the matter. Dentsu's 360i has also been tapped as digital agency for its Guinness beer brand, those people said.
"We are huge fans of Jose Cuervo but we just don't share the same vision for their brand," a CP&B spokeswoman told Ad Age via email. "We're confident that they will find a like-minded agency and wish them the best of luck." Diageo and 360i declined comment.
Adding and taking away agencies is not at all new for Diageo, but given that the marketer spent a half-billion in U.S. advertising last year across its many brands, it's a tough break for an agency to fall from its graces. Late last year, Diageo moved Tanqueray gin from Wieden & Kennedy to Mother , New York, and then tapped Anomaly for Captain Morgan rum.
Even Cuervo, with its whopping lead in U.S. tequila sales, hasn't stayed true to one agency for very long. The brand was parked at CP&B for less than two years and only spent one year at WPP's JWT before that .
Diageo spent $10.6 million in measured media on Jose Cuervo in the U.S. in 2010, up from $6 million the year prior, according to Kantar Media. The brand's most recent push is an event-driven campaign called "Cuervo Games," which have been held in several cities and have included contests like elaborate obstacle courses.
But the brand's performance is slipping in the grocery aisle. Cuervo, which commands 35.6% of the U.S. tequila market, had $92.8 million in U.S. sales in the year ended March 20, a drop of 3.6%, according to SymphonyIRI, which tallies grocery sales not including Walmart or liquor stores. The decline came as the second-ranked brand, Sauza, by Beam Global Spirits & Wine, increased sales by 13.1%, upping its market share to 17.28%.
Jose Cuervo is owned by the Beckmann family, but U.K.-based Diageo, which has distribution rights, is reportedly in discussions to buy the brand.
Guinness is the sixth-largest beer import in the States, with about 3.5% of the import market last year, according to Beer Marketer's Insights. Of the $7.7 million in measured media Diageo spent on the import in 2010, just $636,000 was on digital, according to Kantar. But Diageo is poised to increase its online investment. "Digital is a space that we are looking to have stronger presence in. It's where our consumers live these days," said spokesman Jim Sias. "We're looking for digital to play a larger role as part of our marketing mix."
As for Crispin, it's been a tough year. Cuervo follows its marquee client Burger King out the door; the fast feeder split with the agency after seven years and lots of award-winning work earlier this year.