Wieden & Kennedy Wins Bud Light in U.S., Corona Globally

Shop's Win Of Nation's Biggest Beer Brand Closely Follows Loss of Heineken

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Just two weeks after Wieden & Kennedy and Heineken parted ways, the agency is taking over as the new lead agency for Bud Light in the U.S. The shop will also take on Corona outside the states.

Bud Light
Bud Light

The move marks the fourth agency change in less than four years for Bud Light, whose sales have been decline as more drinkers shift to craft beer. The Anheuser-Busch InBev-owned brew has been handled by BBDO, New York since mid 2013, and before that made stops at McGarryBowen and Translation after ending a long-running relationship with DDB.

W&K will also oversee Corona globally, but not in the U.S., where the beer is owned by Constellation Brands, not A-B InBev. Corona's U.S. agency is Cramer-Krasselt.

"BBDO will no longer be working on Bud Light in the U.S. We gave it our best shot and I would like to thank all of our people who worked so energetically and diligently on this business over the past two years," Andrew Robertson, president-CEO for BBDO Worldwide said in a statement.

"With an award-winning body of work in both CPG and alcohol segments and an impressive global footprint, Wieden & Kennedy brings a powerhouse of talent and experience to Bud Light, and we looking forward to taking the brand to new heights together," Jorn Socquet, VP-marketing for Anheuser-Busch, said in a statement.

W&K's new relationship with A-B InBev comes just wins two weeks after the surprise announcement that the agency was parting ways with Heineken, which has named Publicis Worldwide its lead agency. With Heineken off its roster, the agency seemed in a good position to take on another beer brand, and it doesn't get any bigger than Bud Light, which controls 17.5% of the U.S. beer market, according to Beer Marketer's Insights.

But while it is huge, Bud Light's sales have been shrinking in recent years. The brand's shipments fell by 1.7% last year, according to Beer Marketer's. Bud Light spent nearly $308 million on measured media in 2014, according to Kantar Media.

Under BBDO, Bud Light launched its ongoing "Perfect Beer For Whatever Happens" campaign that debuted during the 2014 Super Bowl and has sought to align the beer with spontaneous fun, leaning heavily on experiential and digital executions.

While Bud Light has moved among several agencies in recent years, this is the first creative agency change under Mr. Socquet, who took over in 2014.

BBDO first won Bud Light in June 2013, later adding Bud Light Platinum and other line extensions in 2014. BBDO originally handled the work out of the Chicago and New York offices, but moved the account solely to New York in April of this year. FCB earlier this year picked up portions of the work BBDO had, adding Bud Light Lime's summer push to its roster, and two months later adding the Ritas brands and MixxTail. (FCB also picked up Michelob Ultra in January.)

W&K has had a revolving door of account wins and losses in recent months. It lost Heineken, but in February picked up the KFC account from FCB without a review. In March, it parted ways with Weight Watchers, but the same month made its way onto the General Mills roster with the Yoplait brand.

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