Wieden Nabs Heineken Brands, Beats Publicis

Agency Gets Second Chance With Beer Brands

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Heineken USA and Wieden & Kennedy are back together, with the indy shop beating Publicis for creative duties on Heineken and Heineken Light after a review that began last month, the beer importer told Ad Age .

"They are a great fit for us," said Heineken USA Chief Marketing Officer Lesya Lysyj. "We feel like they are really going to challenge us to go to the next level. They have a very unconventional way of approaching brands and categories and we think that 's great particularly given the fact we are a premium brand in a very competitive category."

Wieden is getting its second crack at Heineken and after handling the brands as recently as 2008 out of its Portland, Ore., office. This time, the agency will run the business out of New York, as it seeks to restore luster to the two premium beers, which are struggling to emerge from a sales slump.

"We had great chemistry with this client from the get-go, so we are thrilled. We've always had the utmost respect for the Heineken brand, and are really excited to be working with them again," Neal Arthur, managing director of Wieden & Kennedy, New York, said in a statement. Heineken shifted the work to Euro RSCG in 2009 and is changing gears once again this year as it puts a new emphasis on aligning U.S. advertising with the efforts of its Netherlands-based global parent. All told, importer has now made five agency changes on the Heineken lager brand since 2006.

Heineken USA shoveled $72 million in measured media spending into Heineken and Heineken Light last year, according to Kantar Media.

The importer, with oversight from its global parent, gave the New York offices of Publicis and Wieden a shot because both agencies have done global work on the brands. Publicis, Paris, is involved on tactical ads and print work. But Wieden, out of its Amsterdam office, is behind a higher-profile effort, creating a TV commercial called "The Entrance," which has become the centerpiece of the brewer's international campaign, whose tagline is "Open Your World."

Asked if the ad gave Wieden a leg up, Ms. Lysyj said: "We did approach this with a really open mind because we wanted to make sure we had the right agency for us in the US."

The TV spot began as a web video that went viral and is now running as a TV ad in some 50 countries. In the U.S., the spot has gotten extensive airplay, including during the NBA playoffs. Shot in Barcelona Spain, the ad stars French actor Eric Monjoin, who charms his way past an oil baron, kung fu assassin and others and ends up on stage performing with the lead singer of The Asteroids Galaxy Tour, a Danish alternative pop band, whose latest single, "The Golden Age," is the ad's soundtrack.

Wieden's first task in the U.S. is a new campaign for Heineken Light expected to break this summer. The brand is only sold in the U.S. and is the 10th-largest imported beer. Heineken Light has struggled with shipments falling 8.1% in 2010 and market share among imports dropping to 2.1%, according to Beer Marketer's Insights.

Euro RSCG remains the agency for Heineken USA's Dos Equis brand, which has been a bright spot for the importer with surging sales thanks in larger part to the iconic "Most Interesting Man in the World" campaign.

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