Heineken and Wieden & Kennedy End Relationship

The Agency Was Behind Award-Winning Legends Campaign

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Heineken and Wieden & Kennedy are parting ways, just days before the brewer will be honored as the 2015 Cannes Lions Creative Marketer of the Year.

"After five years this is a good time to go our separate ways. We have enjoyed a strong and effective partnership. Now it is time to move on for both W&K and Heineken," Jan Derck van Karnebeek, chief commercial officer for Heineken, said in a statement.

The agency has primarily handled brand Heineken from its Amsterdam office, although Wieden & Kennedy New York has pitched in on U.S.-centric efforts, including for Heineken Light.

According to the statement, the agency and marketer have "reached an agreement to terminate the global advertising contracts for the Heineken and Desperados brands."

Globally, Wieden & Kennedy is best known for its "Legends" campaign for Heineken, which earned the 2013 Creative Effectiveness Grand Prix. Ads feature stylish leading men navigating urban environments.

In his statement, Mr. van Karnebeek noted that "We work with multiple agencies on Heineken to support the worldwide presence of the brand, and also to bring additional creative thinking. Globally we now enjoy a strong relationship with Publicis, while in many markets we are working with local agencies to deliver outstanding and effective local top-spin campaigns."

Dave Luhr, president of Wieden & Kennedy, said that "we are very proud of the creative body of work we developed for the Heineken, Heineken Light and Desperados brands. But in this business, change is more of the norm than the exception and it is time that we each go our own directions. We leave with great respect and admiration for Heineken and wish them the best of luck in their future endeavours."

The move comes as Heineken makes organizational changes, including combining the roles of global CMO and chief sales officer into one position called chief commercial officer held by Mr. van Karnebeek. As a result, Global Chief Marketing Officer Alexis Nasard is leaving the company. Heineken is also reducing its global operating regions to four from five.

When Heineken was named Cannes Marketer of the Year late last year, the announcement credited the brewer for streamlining its agencies "resulting in one global lead agency for the Heineken brand" -- Wieden & Kennedy -- that "ensured consistency across global campaigns."

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