Coors promo shop cuts into FCB role

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Coors Brewing Co. is turning to its promotion agency to create national advertising. But Foote, Cone & Belding Worldwide, Chicago, has dodged the silver bullet on the $100 million account-despite producing a campaign panned by distributors and yanked by the company's new chief marketing officer.

The promo shop, Integer Group, Lakewood, Colo., created two new commercials for Coors Light. They replaced FCB's "Ready for a cold one?" campaign, which Chief Marketing Officer Ron Askew pulled after he joined Coors last October.

Mr. Askew founded the promotion agency, now owned by Omnicom Group, and was its CEO before he moved to Coors.

Integer also picked up $30 million-plus in spot media planning and buying that had been handled by FCB, according to insiders. FCB and Integer referred calls to the client. FCB retains media planning, and its Interpublic Group of Cos.' sibling, Initiative Media, New York, handles national network buying.

A Coors spokeswoman said Integer's relationship with Coors Light is likely to expand to Original Coors and other brands. "Integer is expected to handle more creative than ever before," she said. Most of the work is expected to be promotional.

Integer's commercials feature pulsating music and a montage of young people playing sports, dancing and enjoying Coors Light. Refreshment and active lifestyles are images the brewer has cultivated. The spots are on air, and several more, likely from FCB, will break later this year. Two other commercials in rotation were created by FCB.


FCB's 23-year hold on the account does not appear shaky, though it lost an important patron with the Jan. 1 retirement of Senior VP-Marketing Bill Weintraub. Mr. Askey asked the agency to assign new creatives to his account and to come up with work that would resonate with 20-something beer drinkers.

He "really did want to push the thinking of the agency," said the Coors spokeswoman. "He laid it on the line."

Coors traditionally unveils work at its annual distributor meeting in March. But the Integer ads were rushed on the air after Mr. Askew pulled the "Ready for a cold one?" ads. The ads showed buddies sitting on a couch, with one pulling a lever to drop a pile of snow, a polar bear or Eskimo on a friend.

Those ads were supposed to appeal to regular guys, but didn't appeal to distributors, said one Southern wholesaler. "The stuff they've got now is somewhat of a Band-Aid, but it's a lot better than the guy on the couch," he said. Mr. Askew has shown distributors new concepts that have been more warmly received, said one beer industry executive.

Despite relative strength in the low-calorie beer category, Coors Light shipments were down in the first nine months of the year, according to Beer Marketer's Insights. The brand grew through much of the 1980s and `90s, but stumbled after general weakness in the beer market, marketing misfires and competition from alternative malt beverages.

The new work shows a "rededication to the 21-to-24-year-old," said the beer industry executive. "It looks and feels younger than what the company has done in the past."

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