GAMBRINUS WILL KEEP PETE IN ADS: IMPORTER OF HOT CORONA BRAND BUYS CRAFT BREWER

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Gambrinus Co. intends to keep the founder of Pete's Brewing Co. as product spokesman after it acquires the troubled craft brewer.

Gambrinus appears at least partly supportive of recent marketing efforts using Pete Slosberg to send a quality message.

"`He's a good spokesperson," said Ron Christesson, marketing director for Gambrinus. "They've got a pretty good strategy in place."

DEAL ESTIMATED AT $68 MIL

Gambrinus last week agreed to acquire Pete's for an estimated $68 million. Pete's, awash in red ink as the craft-brew segment slows down, had been looking for a merger partner for several months. The beer ranks as No. 2 in its segment.

Among its other beer business, Gambrinus markets No. 1 import Corona Extra in the eastern U.S. and handles Texas brew Shiner, Oregon's Bridgeport line and Canadian import Moosehead.

While Mr. Slosberg may remain in the ad plans, agency assignments are still to be decided. Black Rocket, San Francisco, currently handles Pete's and losing the brand would be a blow. The young agency lost the $6 million Eddie Bauer Inc. account last August and its work for Tri Valley Growers' S&W Fine Foods line has been reduced to project from full-service, a company spokesman said.

SPENDING MAY RISE

Black Rocket said it believes it will continue as Pete's agency at least through yearend, and spending may rise from the $976,000 that Competitive Media Reporting said Pete's received in 1997.

Gambrinus works with a variety of agencies, including the Richards Group, Dallas, for Corona; PGC Advertising, Dallas, for Moosehead; and Fogarty Klein & Partners, Houston, for Bridgeport.

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