"We are doing a limited search as we speak," Mike's President Philip O' Neil told Ad Age .
Arnold is not defending the account. "Our partnership with Mike's Hard Lemonade helped them achieve double-digit growth for the past two years," the agency said in a statement."We're proud of what we accomplished, and we wish them the best with their next agency partner."
Seattle-based Mike's sells a variety of flavored malt beverages including its flagship lemonade brand, spending $10.2 million on measured media in 2010, according to Kantar Media.
The new search might seem surprising considering that Mike's is on a roll of late, with sales up 33.8% in the 52 weeks ending Sept. 4, according to SymphonyIRI. But the move is consistent with the recent track record of the company, which has been a serial reviewer as of late. Sales were also surging in early 2010 when Mike's shifted the account to ArnoldNYC, the New York office of Havas-owned Arnold Worldwide. The agency took the account from independent Amalgamated, which only had it for two years after winning it in early 2008 from now-defunct We Are Gigantic.
Mr. O' Neil declined to elaborate on why the marketer put the account into review.
Mike's leads the progressive adult beverage category with $296 million in sales and 30% market share, ahead of Diageo's Smirnoff Ice, which had nearly 21% share in the year ending Sept. 4, according to SymphonyIRI, which excludes Walmart and liquor stores. Overall sales in the volatile category were up 11% in the period, according to SymphonyIRI.
Mike's current campaign encourages drinkers to "switch things up from regular beer" including one ad that features a lemonade stand in the middle of a convenient store beer aisle.
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Contributing: Rupal Parekh