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Heineken Agency Shift to Affect PR, Hispanic and Creative Roster

Heineken, Amstel PR Moves to Edelman While Hispanic Is Consolidated at Wieden & Kennedy

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Heineken USA has shifted brand PR duties for its Heineken and Amstel brands to Edelman from Publicis Groupe 's MSLGROUP, while consolidating Hispanic advertising with Wieden & Kennedy, which already handles general-market creative duties for the brand.

The importer has also picked Zambezi as the creative agency for Strongbow, a hard-cider brand from the U.K. for which it will assume U.S. distribution rights beginning in January. Strongbow, one of the largest cider brands in the U.S., is owned by Heineken USA's global parent company, Heineken NV, but had been distributed in the states by Vermont Cider Co.

The move follows Edelman's win over the summer of Dos Equis and corporate PR. Now, in addition to the new Heineken and Amstel brand accounts, Edelman will also assume Hispanic PR duties for the Heineken brand. The marketer cited Edelman's creativity on the Dos Equis account, on which it has worked for six months.

We had a fairly complex agency structure," said Colin Westcott-Pitt, VP-marketing for Heineken. "For us, it's really about forming deeper, stronger relationships with a number of partners."

An MSLGroup spokesman said, "MSL New York is very proud of our work across the six-year partnership on Heineken, Heineken Light and Amstel Light. We wish the Heineken portfolio of brands continued success as they move forward in the marketplace."

This move comes on the heels of the resignation of former MSLGroup North American President Jim Tsokanos. Renee Wilson succeeded Mr. Tsokanos in September.

Hispanic creative and PR duties for brand Heineken had been handled by Vidal Partnership. The importer is moving the work -- above-the-line Hispanic, including Spanish language and Hispanic creative -- from a niche agency to a more general market agency such as Wieden & Kennedy to account for a shift from demographic targeting to psychographic targeting, according to Mr. Westcott-Pitt.

"There's a shift in what consumers are interested in what they believe in and value in life. It trumps where they happen to be from or what their ethnic group is ," he said. "[Wieden & Kennedy] displayed that they can effectively understand the target consumer for Heineken -- demographic elements and behavioral and psychographic elements as well."

 

"We have a great relationship with them from a global and local perspective," Mr. Westcott-Pitt added. "To be able to consolidate all creative needs into one agency at that level of quality was very important to us."

The Strongbow assignment is a significant win for Zambezi, a small shop based in Venice Beach, Calif. Cider is one of the fastest-growing segments in the alcohol category. Heineken USA is expected to pour significant resources behind Strongbow, naming it one of its top three priorities for 2013, behind its Heineken and Dos Equis brands. The importer said it plans to differentiate Strongbow from other ciders on the market.

 

"Zambezi's responsibilities will include strategic and creative development to support further brand growth in the U.S.," said Matt Kahn, VP-marketing for Heineken USA portfolio brands.

Heineken USA spent $126 million on measured media in 2011 across its brands, which include Heineken and Heineken Light, Dos Equis, Amstel, Tecate and Newcastle, according to Kantar Media.

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