Grey Wins Ketel One Vodka's Creative Account

Agency Adds Another Diageo Brand to Its Portfolio

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NEW YORK (AdAge.com) -- Grey, New York, has brought aboard another account from longtime client Diageo, snagging creative duties for Ketel One vodka after a pitch, according to industry executives.

The WPP agency emerged the winner from a field of four shops: the incumbent, M&C Saatchi; independent agency Wieden & Kennedy; and Kirshenbaum Bond & Partners, which is also on the alcohol behemoth's roster.

Media duties are unaffected by the move, and remain at Grey sibling Mediacom.

Representatives for Diageo could not be immediately reached for comment.

Grey has worked with Diageo since 1994, and currently handles creative duties for the marketer's Crown Royal whiskey and Captain Morgan rum brands in six countries.

Ketel One is a newcomer to the Diageo family of spirit brands. Diageo last June struck a $900 million deal with the Nolet Group, the Dutch maker of Ketel One, to form a new joint venture. In 2007, Nolet spent about $25 million on domestic measured media, double what it devoted to its other leading vodka brand, Smirnoff, according to TNS Media Intelligence data.

Ketel One moved about 1.8 million cases in 2008, roughly flat with the previous year, according to spirits trade magazine Impact's Annual Spirits Study. But the economic conditions could make even staying flat difficult: The superpremium vodka space is brutally crowded, and the economic turmoil of late seems to be driving growth in cheaper brands such as Smirnoff, Skyy and Svedka.

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