Hennessy Hands Creative Account to Droga5

Indie Shop Not an Original Contender in Pitch for Leading Cognac

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In an apparent 11th-hour grab, Droga5 has won U.S. creative ad duties for Hennessy, a leading cognac brand.

The independent shop was not believed to be on the original list of contenders -- a lineup that people familiar with the pitch said included Interpublic Group of Cos.' McCann Erickson; MDC Partners' Kirshenbaum Bond Senecal & Partners; and an agency team compiled by Havas. But in the end Droga5 walked away with the account, which tallied $9 million in domestic measured media spending last year, according to estimates by Kantar Media.

Incumbent agency WPP's Berlin Cameron was invited to pitch but declined to participate.

Hennessy, owned by luxury conglomerate LVMH Moet Hennessy, did not comment on the process, other than to confirm Droga5 as the winner. Agencies either declined to comment or could not be reached.

Hennessy is the No. 1 cognac brand worldwide, with sales of 50 million bottles a year. U.S. sales edged up 2.4% in 2010 to $57.4 million, according to SymphonyIRI.

The brand, founded in 1765 by an Irish aristocrat, has in recent times been bolstered by popularity in the hip-hop community, but seems poised to try to broaden that base to all urban consumers.

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Contributing: Rupal Parekh