Droga5 Named Agency of Record for Amstel

Indie Shop's Win Follows Its Elimination from Bud Light Pitch

By Published on .

Droga5 -- which was eliminated in the final round of the Bud Light review -- has rebounded quickly, winning creative and strategic duties for Amstel Light.

Heineken USA tapped the independent shop as its new agency-of -record for the brand after a swift review in which it considered several agencies, the importer told Ad Age today. "We are confident that Droga5 , an agency known for its bold creativity and unconventional campaigns, is the right partner to take Amstel Light to the next level during this pivotal movement for the brand," Colin Westcott-Pitt, Amstel's VP-marketing, said in a statement.

The importer launched the review last month, ending a four-year run with Dallas-based Richards Group.

The review put Droga5 in a dicey spot as it vied for Bud Light and the much smaller Amstel account at the same time. Asked about concerns of a potential conflict, Heineken USA told Ad Age : ""Droga5 was completely transparent regarding other potential business opportunities. We were impressed enough with their agency to see the process through, and we were prepared to deal with any potential conflicts when and if they arose."

Droga5 CEO Andrew Essex said: "When Heineken approached us, it was widely reported we were in the Bud Light pitch, so we tried to be transparent about potential other opportunities to both parties."

Asked about Droga5 , Anheuser-Busch InBev U.S. Marketing VP Paul Chibe said the brewer does not comment on agencies pitching accounts due to a confidentiality policy.

While much smaller than Bud Light, Amstel is still a nice get for Droga5 , moving it into the high-profile U.S. beer category, while adding another blue chip marketer to the agency's client list, which was bolstered recently by new business from Kraft Foods. The agency's other booze experience includes project work several years ago for Pernod Ricard's Malibu rum. Also, earlier this year the shop won U.S. creative ad duties for Hennessy, a leading cognac brand owned by LVMH Moet Hennessy Louis Vuitton Moet Hennessy.

Droga5 Australia, which operates independently from Droga5 U.S., handles a beer brand in Australia called Victoria Bitter, also known as VB.

Amstel spent $10 million in measured media last year, according to Kantar media, compared with the more than $276 million Anheuser-Busch InBev spent on Bud Light.

Amstel Light sales fell nearly 12% in the 52 weeks ending Oct. 30 to $30.4 million, according to SymphonyIRI, which tracks grocery sales excluding Walmart Stores and liquor stores. The brand commands less than 1% share of the imported beer market. Heineken Light has 2% share, while the importer's flagship Heineken brand has about 16%, according to SymphonyIRI. Although Amstel is one of Heineken USA's smaller brands, it has gotten renewed focus of late. In his statement, Mr. Westcott-Pitt said the importer is using "innovation to bring Amstel Light back into the spotlight." Part of the strategy is a line extension called Amstel Wheat, a European-style wheat with hints of fruit and floral notes. The offering was recently launched in seven test markets, with plans to significantly grow distribution in 2012. As for marketing the product, Heineken USA said it was "evaluating plans" and "the agency role has not yet been defined."

The Amstel Light agency move is the latest change under Chief Marketing Officer Lesya Lysyj, who joined Heineken USA in February. In May she shifted Heineken and Heineken Light to Wieden & Kennedy, New York. The brands had been at Euro RSCG, which still has the Dos Equis brand.

Most Popular