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MOSCOW -- After three years of selling local beer brands, Sun-Interbrew, Russia's second biggest brewer, is launching its first international brand here, Stella Artois.

Moscow-based ad agency Adventa Lowe Lintas handles advertising for brands like Klinskoye, Tolstyak and Siberian Crown, which together with Interbrew's other local brands give it a 16% share of the marketing, according to research group Business Analityca.

However, another Interpublic Group of Cos. agency will handle the launch campaign for the premium international brand that breaks in April.

The London office of McCann-Erickson Worldwide has been named to the Stella Artois account while Initiative Media will handle media buying. The brewer is setting aside 10% to 15% of its annual ad spend in Russia for the Stella Artois launch. Last year Interbrew spent $20 million on advertising in Russia, according to Gallup AdFact.

Instead of the usual blanket use of TV and press used by local brands, the Stella campaign will be more focused.

"We want to target a special type of customer who prefers quality beer only," said Natalia Balakireva, the Stella Artois brand manager. Stella spots will be broadcast in modern cinemas equipped with Dolby surround technology and will run in general interest magazines such as Geo, Playboy and Itogy/Newsweek.

Copyright March 2001, Crain Communications Inc.

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