Ogilvy Joins Beam Inc.'s Agency Roster

WPP Agency Wins Pinnacle Vodka Duties Following Pitch

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To help market its newly acquired vodka brand, Pinnacle, Beam Inc. has tapped WPP's Ogilvy as its lead creative agency. The account will be handled out of the shop's Chicago office.

Beam moved quickly to find an agency to launch a new marketing campaign for Pinnacle on the heels of acquiring the brand in May. The company purchased the Pinnacle Vodka and Calico Jack rum brands from privately held White Rock Distilleries for $605 million. Other spirits brands in the Beam family include Jim Beam and Maker's Mark Bourbon, Sauza Tequila, Courvoisier Cognac, Canadian Club Whisky and Teacher's Scotch.

Now it's on Ogilvy to help Pinnacle grow -- and there's a lot of room for it. The French vodka is the 11th-largest vodka brand in the U.S., with 2.19% share, according to SymphonyIRI, which does not include bar and restaurant sales or Walmart. The brand has been on a growth spurt, with sales up nearly 123% to $26.7 million in the year ending July 8, according to SymphonyIRI.

On an earnings call last week, Beam noted that vodka is one of the four fastest-growing liquor categories in North America, along with bourbon, ready-to-serve drinks and Irish whiskey. "We're making high-return investments to grow in each of these very attractive segments, through brand activation, new products and acquisitions," CEO Matthew Shattock said during the call. He added that "Pinnacle Vodka has given us an excellent growth platform in the largest spirits segment that accounts for a third of drinks occasions in the U.S."

"We are excited to bring Ogilvy on board to our Beam Pinnacle family," said Deb Boyda, general manager of the venture category business team for Beam, in a statement. "Pinnacle's classic, unflavored vodka was the U.S. market's fastest-growing non-flavored imported vodka in 2011. As we continue to pioneer some of the most exciting flavors in the vodka category, including the outstanding success of the Pinnacle line of Whipped dessert-flavored vodkas, we look forward to the creative contributions Ogilvy can make as our partner in growth."

It's understood that other finalists in the pitch included two Intepublic Group of Cos.' shops, Deutsch and the Martin Agency.

The WPP agency likely used its vodka creds from its time working on Stoli to help bring home the account. Ogilvy had won Stoli after a pitch in 2008, and created a campaign that featured a variety of celebrities including Hugh Hefner and Twitter's Biz Stone. But the client and agency parted ways in February 2011 after a little less than two years, leaving Ogilvy open in the spirits category.

This win follows Ogilvy coming out on top in Nascar's review for a new agency of record a couple of weeks ago.

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