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Heineken USA Picks Mexican Agency to Lead Tecate in U.S.

By Published on .

Tecate 'beer wall' spot made light of Trump's wall.
Tecate 'beer wall' spot made light of Trump's wall.  Credit: CuauhtĂ©moc Moctezuma Brewery
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Heineken USA imports Tecate from Mexico -- and now the brand's ad ideas will come from south of the border, too.

The marketer has shifted U.S. creative duties on Tecate to a Mexican-based agency, spelling the end of the beer marketer's relationship with Saatchi & Saatchi New York. The brew's new shop is Nomades, which was founded in Mexico and Argentina in 2013 by Pablo Batlle, an Argentine creative and DDB veteran. A Heineken USA spokesman confirmed the agency would handle Tecate from its Mexico City office.

It is unusual for a U.S.-sold brand to be led from an ad agency office outside of the states -- but one that the Mexican imported brew has tried before. Tecate in 2012 handed U.S. ad responsibilities to Mexico City-based Olabuenaga Chemistri, which at the time had been handling the brew's Mexican advertising. But the experiment ended 14 months later when Heineken moved the account back to the U.S., tapping Inspire, Dallas, to oversee English-language campaigns. (The Olabuenaga Chemistri agency no longer exists, following a merger with Leo Burnett in Mexico in April 2015 after Ana Maria Olabuenaga retired from the agency she founded.)

Saatchi took over from Inspire in 2014, as Tecate filled a beer void created when the Publicis Groupe agency lost Miller Lite earlier that year. Late last year the agency created an ad for Tecate that got a lot of attention for making a light-hearted jab at Donald Trump's proposal to build a wall between the U.S. and Mexico.

Nomades is expected to soon release an English-language boxing-themed campaign for the beer in the U.S. that will include Mexican fighter Canelo Alvarez. When Tecate in 2013 parted ways with Olabuenaga Chemistri for U.S. advertising, then-Tecate VP-Marketing Felix Palau told Ad Age that "we realized that when a Mexican agency tries to develop English creative, it feels translated. So in all honesty, we were not comfortable with the delivery."

Asked about that thinking on Monday, a Heineken USA spokesman stated that "like our bicultural consumer, Nomades has cultural ties and connections rooted in both the U.S., and Mexico. Nomades has a proven track record of developing creative for the Tecate brand, and we are looking forward to continuing that with our 'Born Bold' platform."

Nomades was named for its philosophy of encouraging its employees to behave like nomads and get out of the office as much as possible to spend time with clients. The shop has been working for Tecate in Mexico for a while. The shop won best integrated campaign of the year in Ad Age's 2015 Small Agency Awards for its "Soccer Gentlemen" campaign for Tecate. The effort deftly connected Tecate to soccer without making direct references to the World Cup or the Mexican team because Corona sponsored both. The theme was how men could juggle their love lives with watching soccer. The agency has also created boxing-themed ads in Mexico for Tecate starring Sylvester Stallone.

Contributing Laurel Wentz