MillerCoors has expanded its relationship with Publicis Groupe 's Arc Worldwide. The roster shop had been handling retail marketing for Foster's, Molson Canadian and Sparks, and will now take on creative and digital duties for those brands.
The win came without a review. Foster's creative was previously handled on a project basis by Publicis Groupe sibling Digitas. That agency remains the digital agency-of -record for Miller Lite, and continues to handle other project work for the brewer.
A MillerCoors spokesman said the marketer made the change to "continue driving great creative while also creating a stronger link between the ads to our retail activation." He added: "We believe Arc Worldwide provides those capabilities very well, and we are excited to work with them."
The move also comes at a time when MillerCoors is under pressure to reverse declining sales trends across its beer portfolio, esecially on Miller Lite, whose sales to retailers dropped by mid-single digits in the third quarter.
Foster's is a bit of a bright spot within the brewer's portfolio; its sales grew by 4% to $44.7 million in the year ending Oct. 30, giving it 1.28% share of the imported beer category, according to SymphonyIRI, which tracks grocery sales not including Walmart or liquor stores. In reality, the brand is not an import. While hops are imported from Australia, the beer is made in Texas.
Molson Canadian has traditionally gotten very little advertising attention in the U.S. and neither has Sparks, a flavored-malt-beverage brand. Foster's is on TV, but is a relatively small spender, with the brewer dedicating a modest $4.2 million in measured media spending on the brand in 2010, according to Kantar Media.
The new creative assignment represents a significant expansion of Arc's relationship with the brewer; the agency also handles customer-relationship marketing for MillerCoors' brands Keystone, Miller High Life, Milwaukee's Best, MGD 64 and Icehouse.
Although the brewer inked the new deal with Arc Worldwide -- Leo Burnett's retail marketing arm that has long handled a host of MillerCoors brands -- Leo Burnett creatives will assist with strategy and new TV spots set to roll out for Foster's next year, according to the agency. "The solid seven-year partnership between Arc Worldwide and MillerCoors provides us with a great opportunity to showcase the depth and breadth of The Leo Burnett Group, bringing MillerCoors cross-channel marketing, digital and creative solutions, all under one roof," said Rich Stoddart, President of Leo Burnett North America.
It gives Leo a chance to dip its toes back into into beer advertising, where it hasn't been since losing the Beck's beer account in 2006, the same year Anheuser-Busch became the U.S. importer of the German beer. Prior to that , Leo handled Miller Lite advertising from 1991 to 1996. Lite is now at Interpublic Group of Cos.' DraftFCB.
MillerCoors is expected to continue its Australian-themed advertising for Foster's. Arc and Leo are working on new ad executions that are expected to debut at MillerCoors' spring distributor convention.