How Great Works' Absolut Work Won It Malibu Rum

Vodka Brand's Acquisition Proved Boon Rather Than Bad Omen for Agency

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CHICAGO (AdAge.com) -- Having one's biggest client swallowed up by a larger competitor is taken as a bad omen at most shops, but occasionally that scenario can present a lucrative opportunity for an agency.

Case in point: TYO-owned Great Works' new appointment as global digital agency of record for Malibu rum.

Since its 2002 founding, Great Works has handled digital responsibilities for Absolut -- winning a long list of praise and prizes including Cannes Lion Cyber Gold earlier this year. But after Absolut was bought earlier this year by Pernod Ricard in an $8.3 billion deal, Great Works' track record on the brand apparently impressed the No. 2 global spirits player enough to move Malibu away from its incumbent Publicis shops to the agency.

The No. 4 global rum brand in the category, which is available in 150 countries, had been handled by Publicis Worldwide and its siblings since 2003. The brand has also worked with Droga.

'Ability to connect with consumers'
"As Malibu continues to shift focus and investment to original programming in the online space, we're thrilled to sign on Great Works as our lead digital marketing agency," said Cyril Claquin, senior VP-global marketing for Malibu-Kahlua, the Pernod unit that markets Malibu, in a statement. "Their record of innovation and success in not only the spirits category, but elsewhere in the marketplace is critical, as the future of Malibu and other likeminded brands will largely depend on an ability to connect with consumers in ways traditional media simply cannot."

Great Works has offices in Tokyo, Stockholm, Barcelona and New York. Its non-spirits clients include H&M, Electrolux and MTV (in Nordic countries).

The shop's first Malibu work is expected early next year.

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