WM. GRANT HIKES BUDGET FOR UPSCALE LIQUOR BRANDS: SPIRITS MARKETER ENLISTS GRACE, EYES PRODUCT INTRODUCTIONS

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Looking to raise its profile in the spirits market, William Grant & Sons is dramatically boosting its ad budget, expanding agency relationships, overhauling creative and experimenting with new products.

"We have outstanding brands, and we're going to aggressively get back to building their upscale status," said Mark Teasdale, tapped as senior VP-marketing for the distiller last fall (AA, Nov. 17). He previously had been VP-marketing for Paddington Corp., a spirits unit of the former Grand Metropolitan, now part of Diageo.

AD SPENDING TO REACH $10 MIL

Total spending on such Grant brands as Glenfiddich and Balvenie Scotch whiskys, Frangelico liqueur and Reserva del Dueno tequila could reach $10 million or more this year. According to Competitive Media Reporting, Grant spent a total of $3 million on advertising for Glenfiddich and Frangelico last year.

The distiller also is increasing its agency roster. After working solely with McCann-Erickson Worldwide, New York, Grant in February tapped Grace & Rothschild, New York, for all its brands except Glenfiddich, which remains at McCann.

Mr. Teasdale had worked with Grace before and brought the agency in for new ideas, he said.

Grace's first work for Grant, a $3 million print effort for Balvenie, broke last week. In the ads, a put-upon cartoon man finds solace in the single malt scotch. The drawings were done by agency Chairman Roy Grace.

The agency in coming months also will introduce new executions in the Italian-theme Frangelico campaign and new work for Reserva.

`FRIDAY SCOTCH' REVAMP

The 3-year-old "Friday scotch" campaign for Glenfiddich from McCann is due to be overhauled within the next couple of months, Mr. Teasdale said. He would not describe the new campaign.

Glenfiddich sales were flat at 95,000 cases in 1996, the most recent year available, according to industry newsletter Impact.

Later this year, the distiller plans to introduce some new "high energy" brands to its portfolio, Mr. Teasdale said.

Given that he helped develop the Goldschlager brand for Paddington, the new products may be shooter-type drinks aimed at young adults; Mr. Teasdale declined to comment.

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