MILLER BREWING CUTS J. WALTER THOMPSON

Move Completes Plan Detailed in March AdAge.com Story

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CHICAGO (AdAge.com) -- As expected, SABMiller's Miller Brewing Co. has parted ways with J. Walter Thompson, the advertising agency that has handled its
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MGD and Foster beer brands since 1999.

Initial denials
The agency yesterday confirmed the account loss, which was first reported in a March 12 AdAge.com story that quoted executives as saying the account would move by summer. At that time, brewer and agency vigorously denied the AdAge.com story and said the $25 million Miller Genuine Draft account would continue to be shared by JWT and WPP Group sibling Ogilvy & Mather. Ogilvy also handles Miller's $109 million Miller Lite account.

"We wish them well with their future marketing efforts," a JWT spokesman said. "We'll be hoisting a beer in their honor."

No comment
Miller executives could not be reached for comment at press time.

The marketer's controversial "Catfight" TV commercial -- it depicts two nearly naked women wrestling in fountain and a trough of fresh-mixed cement -- has been pulled as product sales continue to lag. The sex ad was produced by Ogilvy & Mather.

Meanwhile, Miller's $10 million Foster's account is in review, and JWT is not defending the business. Independents Wieden & Kennedy, Portland, Ore., which also handles Miller High Life, and overseas incumbent M&C Saatchi, New York, are competing for that account. New spots for the brand from Saatchi broke July 14 with the tagline "Don't lose your head."

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