The marketer was out soliciting new ideas from roster agencies for Cuervo over the past couple of months and had placed resulting work into testing in recent several weeks, executives said.
Out of the running
Among the others the spirits giant was said to have considered to handle work for the brand were the incumbent creative shop, Omnicom Group's Arnell Group; Omnicom sibling Tribal DDB, which handles digital work for the brand; and Publicis Groupe-backed Bartle Bogle Hegarty.
JWT currently does work on Diageo's Bailey's and Smirnoff brands.
A Diageo spokeswoman declined to comment; agency representatives either could not be immediately reached or declined to comment.
For JWT, the added duties for Diageo comes on the heels of a major new-business coup, picking up creative responsibilities for Microsoft's People-Ready business-solutions suite of products from Interpublic Group of Cos.' McCann-Erickson, estimated to be worth between $100 million and $150 million in billings.
For the alcohol behemoth, the shift coincides with leadership changes; last month, Jon Potter was promoted to chief marketing officer for North America, replacing Debra Kelly-Ennis, who moved to the position of president-Diageo Canada.
Cuervo, the largest U.S. tequila brand by a healthy margin, was supported by an estimated $30 million in domestic measured media in 2007, according to TNS Media Intelligence. Cuervo's top five markets globally are the U.S., Greece, Canada, Spain and Great Britain. Diageo, meanwhile, last year spent $173 million on U.S. measured media on its family of alcoholic-beverage brands, which include Johnnie Walker, Bailey's, Smirnoff and Guinness.
Of late, the tequila maker has stepped up marketing of its Jose Cuervo Platino, a premium silver tequila made of 100% blue agave, that retails for about $60 for a 750-milliliter bottle.
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Contributing: Jeremy Mullman