PepsiCo Hires VML as Lead Creative Agency for Brisk

Barbarian Group Loses Account Amid Restructure, Talent Exodus

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Brisk Mate
Brisk Mate Credit: PepsiCo/Unilever

PepsiCo has named WPP's VML as creative AOR for Brisk in the U.S., following a review, according to people famliiar with the matter. The tea brand previously worked with The Barbarian Group, which has endured a number of layoffs and departures in recent months.

VML already works with PepsiCo on other brands, such as handling digital for Propel water.

Representatives from The Barbarian Group were not immediately available for comment. VML declined comment. PepsiCo declined to comment. Barbarian is expected to continue to work on other PepsiCo projects.

No. 9 on Ad Age's 2016 Agency A-List, VML has doubled in size since 2012, broadening its scope of work beyond digital, winning lead agency accounts and expanding relationships with existing clients. This spring, VML snagged the lead creative account for Wendy's after working on the fast-food chain's digital business since 2012. Wendy's was previously with Publicis New York.

In May, The Barbarian Group Executive Creative Chief Edu Pou, who is credited with having won the Brisk business during his tenure, left the agency. The recent talent exodus at the Cheil Worldwide shop, which includes executive departures and layoffs, was causing concern at PepsiCo, Ad Age previously reported. Barbarian Group's work for PepsiCo has included social media efforts related to the Super Bowl, in addition to working on Pepsi Pass, an app and loyalty program.

Brisk -- which is one of PepsiCo's 22 billion-dollar brands -- is part of the Pepsi Lipton Tea Partnership, a joint venture between PepsiCo and Unilever. Other brands in the venture include Lipton Iced Tea and Pure Leaf Iced Tea. In March, Brisk released a product line called Brisk Mate (pronounced mah-tay) that is blended with South American Yerba Mate.

As of the first quarter, Brisk had an estimated 12% roughly of the ready-to-drink tea market, according to Beverage Digest. Volume fell about half a percent for the period. For 2015, volume fell 2.5%, according to Beverage Digest.

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