Dodo Award: Small Agency Endangers Self, Parent

Del Rivero Messianu Does Miller Work Despite Ties to Anheuser-Busch

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LAS VEGAS (AdAge.com) -- In a Long Tail world where major marketers launch new brands in new categories on a seemingly daily basis, agencies are faced with increasingly difficult choices about conflicts of interest when pitching for new business.
Sometimes, however, these decisions aren't that hard. It doesn't take a rocket scientist, for instance, to realize Anheuser-Busch is likely to have a problem with a subsidiary of its agency of record working for Miller Brewing Co.

But Miami-based Del Rivero Messianu DDB is not run by astrophysicists.

Conflict of interest
The Hispanic shop is majority-owned by DDB, Anheuser-Busch's agency of record, and has itself done Bud work in the past. The shop also boasts client relationships with A-B's Busch Gardens and Sea World theme parks on its website.

Yet, after Miller parted with its Hispanic agency, Miami-based Creative on Demand, earlier this year, Del Rivero approached the brewer, declared itself free of creative conflicts, and began doing project work for Miller Lite, according to a Miller spokesman.

Miller aired one of Del Rivero's spots for the brand at its distributor convention here last week. The ad personified beer bottles in an ice bucket, portraying Heineken as a green-suited, sunglasses-wearing poseur, Coors as a shivering Eskimo, and Miller Lite as an unassuming average Joe.

A DDB spokeswoman said that the agency forced Del Rivero to quit working for Miller and to also withdraw from the marketer's upcoming Hispanic agency review as soon as it learned of the relationship. Repeated calls to Del Rivero for comment weren't returned.

Now resolved
According to people familiar with the matter, A-B executives learned of Del Rivero's Miller work directly from DDB executives, and, while initially surprised and annoyed, now view the matter as resolved.

That should be a relief to DDB, which inherited the Budweiser account in 1995 after 79-year incumbent D'Arcy, Masius, Benton & Bowles was fired because media buying the agency was doing for Kraft included some limited work for Miller, which was then owned by Philip Morris. D'Arcy's last work before being canned was the creation of the iconic Budweiser frogs, which DDB later rode to wide acclaim.

A-B's contract with Omnicom prohibits any Omnicom shop from working for another major U.S. brewery, and it gives A-B veto power over most international brewery clients as well. Case in point: Omnicom's Energy BBDO, Chicago, recently requested permission to pitch for Miller Lite's vacant creative account and was denied.

A-B declined to comment on Del Rivero, which is currently boxed out of Bud work by Austin, Texas-based LatinWorks. LatinWorks handles the bulk of A-B Hispanic beer advertising and has been picking up more general-market work as well, including a recent Super Bowl spot starring comedian Carlos Mencia.

A-B spent $387 million in measured media last year, according to TNS Media Intelligence.
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