Carat snares Pernod media business

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Pernod Ricard USA is consolidating its $30 million media planning and buying account at Aegis Group's Carat, New York, expanding on a global relationship. This could be followed soon by shifts in Pernod's U.S. creative.

The move comes after Pernod's 2001 acquisition of some former Seagram Spirits & Wine Group brands, a deal that made Pernod the No. 9 U.S. spirits marketer.

Seagram sold its liquor portfolio as it morphed into entertainment giant Vivendi Universal. French beverage marketer Pernod split the Seagram brands list with British alcohol and food force Diageo in a sale completed at the end of 2001.

Much of Seagram's media work was at Grey Global Group's MediaCom, which won Diageo's $150 million U.S. beer and spirits business in September. MediaCom keeps Diageo's acquired Seagram brands, including Captain Morgan, Crown Royal and Seagram's 7 Crown. A MediaCom executive said a shift in Pernod media to another agency had been expected in order to avoid brand conflicts.

Former Seagram brands going to Carat include Chivas Regal (now Pernod's flagship), Seagram's Gin, Martell cognac, Don Julio and Margaritaville tequilas and The Glenlivet scotch.

Carat also picks up media on Pernod's other U.S. brands. Wild Turkey bourbon media moves from Publicis Groupe's Saatchi & Saatchi, New York; Jameson Irish whiskey and Jacob's Creek wines media shift from Charron, Schwartz & Partners, New York.

Pernod is Carat's first U.S. liquor account. Duncan Maurer, a former Seagram executive who last week became director of media and production at Pernod Ricard USA, said Carat was picked for its "enthusiasm for the business and overall capabilities," adding the decision was driven by efficiencies of budget and communication.

The agency won the account partly on the strength of Carat's overseas relationship. Carat Inter-national handles Pernod brands in 10 European countries.

Carat does not handle Pernod in the United Kingdom, where the shop is media agency for all Diageo brands, both spirits and food divisions. Servicing the companies-in separate countries-apparently has not created conflict problems for the agency overseas.

Creative on much of Pernod's acquired Seagram portfolio is at TBWA/Chiat/Day. But there may be a conflict: The Omnicom Group agency handles Absolut, previously distributed by Seagram but now independent. The Swedish vodka is expected to stay at the New York shop while the agency's creative accounts for Pernod brands are likely to shift to another agency, according to one former high-level Seagram executive.

Saatchi handles creative on Wild Turkey, Bushmills Irish whiskey and Wyborowa vodka.

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