Ketel One on the Lookout for New Creative Agency

Grey, Kirshenbaum and Wieden Will Battle It Out

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NEW YORK (AdAge.com) -- Diageo-backed vodka brand Ketel One is seeking a new creative agency, according to executives familiar with the matter.

The search for a new creative shop follows a wave of changes for both Ketel One, and its new ally, Diageo.
The search for a new creative shop follows a wave of changes for both Ketel One, and its new ally, Diageo.
Two of the shops competing for the business are on the spirit marketer's roster: WPP's Grey and MDC Partners' Kirshenbaum Bond & Partners. The third agency in the mix is independent Wieden & Kennedy.

M&C Saatchi is the incumbent agency and creator of the long-running "Dear Ketel One Drinker" campaign, which for years has shown a few words of boldfaced copy on mostly white space. But images of the brand's bottles did make their way into some ads last spring, though.

M&C Saatchi's work was often decried by ad types who deemed the effort a waste of money. Nevertheless, the campaign did seem to work, helping to boost sales of the 300-year old Dutch brand to nearly 2 million cases sold in 2007.

Agencies either declined to comment or couldn't be reached, and a Diageo spokesman declined to comment. The review isn't expected to affect media duties, handled by WPP's Mediacom.

One of many changes
The search for a new creative shop follows a wave of changes for both the brand, and its new ally, Diageo.

The alcohol behemoth last June struck a $900 million deal with the Nolet Group, maker of Ketel One, to form a new joint venture. The deal coincided with the promotion of Jon Potter to North American CMO for Diageo from an earlier role as president for global vodka and rum marketing.

Ketel One's primary market is the U.S. In 2007, Nolet spent about $25 million on domestic measured media, double what it devoted to its other leading vodka brand, Smirnoff, according to TNS Media Intelligence data.

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