Bacardi picks Margeotes to market its Sapphire gin

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Bacardi USA selected Margeotes/Fertitta & Partners, New York, to handle its estimated $15 million account for Bombay Sapphire gin.

As part of the arrangement, Margeotes will end work on Stolichnaya vodka's nearly $1 million account. A Stoli move had been anticipated as U.S. distribution rights shift from United Distillers & Vintners to Allied Domecq Spirits USA (AA, Nov. 27). Allied Domecq, which will start distributing Stoli Jan. 1, said no decision has been made about an agency.

Margeotes' work updates the designer-martini-glass campaign the agency launched in 1994, said Monsell Darville, group marketing director for Sapphire. Parts of the campaign could run globally, but in the U.S., efforts will be limited to outdoor and print ads, which broke in November magazines. The five-year-old "Pour Something Priceless" tag will remain for now, he said.

"We've done an exhaustive amount of testing of brand essence and the martini campaign, and it still comes back just with amazing scores. The last three executions-we could not be happier with the work being done to date," Mr. Darville said. Margeotes and a Bacardi team created the ads running in magazines such as Conde Nast Traveler, GQ and Saveur.

Margeotes also picked up the original Bombay account, but no advertising is planned. It handled Bombay from 1995 to 1998.

"We're excited to be working with these guys on the brand again-it's a new relationship with Bacardi, but an old and enduring relationship with the Bombay Sapphire brand," said Jolie DeFeis, group account director for Sapphire at Margeotes.

The shift to Margeotes had been expected (AA, May 29). Other finalists were Berlin, Cameron & Partners, New York, and Amaretto di Saronno agency McKinney & Silver, Raleigh, N.C. Sapphire had no agency for the past year.

Imported gins grew 6% last year, compared with a 1% drop for domestic brands, according to industry publication Impact. Sapphire saw the greatest increase-36% to 360,000 cases, compared with Tanqueray's 3% rise to 1.3 million cases and Beefeater's flat performance with 650,000 cases.

Sapphire last year spent $9.8 million on measured media, compared with the $7.3 million spent by Tanqueray, the category leader. Tanqueray spent $4.3 million the first eight months of this year, according to Competitive Media Reporting.

No. 2 Beefeater, which had no spending in 1999, spent $2.3 million January through August this year. Mr. Darville indicated spending for Sapphire could jump by 50% in 2001.

Schieffelin & Somerset distributes Tanqueray, with ads by J. Walter Thompson, New York. Allied Domecq markets Beefeater, with ads by BBDO, Chicago. Allied Domecq is expected to spend about $25 million on advertising and promotions for Stoli.

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