Newcastle Turns to Small Minneapolis Agency for PR

Fast Horse Gets Beer Brand's Biz, Tasked With Amping Up 'No Bollocks' Campaign

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Heineken USA has moved PR duties for Newcastle Brown Ale from Formula to Fast Horse, a small independent shop based in Minneapolis.

Fast Horse will be tasked with spreading the news of the brand's ongoing "No Bollocks" campaign, which features lighthearted ribbing of conventional beer-selling ploys, such as fancy glassware and signs. While the campaign gets national TV exposure, the importer's total spending on the brand is relatively modest. It got $5.3 million in measured media support last year, compared with the $76.8 million the importer spent on its flagship Heineken brand, according to Kantar Media.

Newcastle's 'No Bollocks' Campaign
Newcastle's 'No Bollocks' Campaign

Fast Horse, which has done work for big marketers such as Coca Cola and UnitedHealth Group, won Newcastle after a formal review that included three finalists. The agency delivered on the "challenger thinking and challenger mindset" needed for a brand like New Castle, said Charles van Es, a Heineken USA senior director of marketing who oversees New Castle and other smaller brands. "We need people who are able to think big [and] breakthrough and still understand the size of the brand and the benefits that come with it. We can be a little bit more provocative."

Heineken USA parted ways with Formula earlier this year, the marketer said. Formula execs were not immediately available for comment.

While Droga5 will continue to lead social media, Mr. van Es said he expects the agency to collaborate with Fast Horse, which will be asked to "integrate public relations strategies into all key marketing initiatives" for the brand.

Newcastle's latest ads plug Newcastle Bombshell, limited-edition English-style blonde ale that hit stores in May and will be available through July. The TV spot says the beer is "as pale as an Englishman in the midst of summer." The same tongue-in-cheek, dry humor was used on a press release issued last month, which stated that the beer has "an eye-catching blonde on the label intended to catch the eye of beer drinkers nationally. And sell more beer."

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