London-based Diageo said today it would sell Malibu to Allied Domecq for $793 million, a deal subject to regulatory approval in the U.S. and abroad. It's uncertain whether a review would ensue or whether Allied Domecq would shift Malibu to one of its agencies, which include Omnicom Group's BBDO Worldwide, Chicago, which handles Stolichnaya, Beefeater and Kahlua, and Interpublic Group of Cos.' dRush, New York, which handles Sauza and Courvoisier.
Diageo is the world's largest drinks company, and WPP Group's J. Walter Thompson is its global ad agency. JWT's New York office handles Malibu.
Allied Domecq and JWT could not immediately be reached for comment.
A spokesman for Diageo's Guinness-UDV said no agency change is expected once that deal is approved and Captain Morgan comes under its umbrella. Captain Morgan's agency is Grey Global Group's Grey Worldwide, New York. The brand received $17.4 million in measured media in the first 11 months of last year, according to Taylor Nelson Sofres' CMR.
Diageo's sale of Malibu was necessary for Diageo and Pernod Ricard to buy the Seagram Spirits & Wine Group brands from Vivendi Universal. Regulators said Diageo would control too much of the rum market if it distributed both Malibu, the country's No. 3 rum, and Captain Morgan.