Largest Czech brewery drops Burnett, Mccann for Y&R

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PRAGUE -- In a surprise move, Plzensky Prazdroj (Pilsen Breweries) - the Czech Republic's largest brewery - moved the Czech and Slovak advertising accounts for its Urquell, Gambrinus and Primus beer brands and the Aqua Maria bottled water account to Young & Rubicam. Media will be bought by Mediapolis.

McCann-Erickson was removed from the Gambrinus account and Leo Burnett from the Pilsner Urquell and Primus advertising. No pitch was held. "Urquell was a prestige account for us, so we're very sorry to lose it," says Leo Burnett Creative Director Cal Bruns. "But the decision was more of an emotional loss than a financial one."

Y&R Managing Director Martin Beck says Plzensky Prazdroj needs to "react to the changing domestic market. It must make some basic changes from the strategy point of view and it wants more consistency in the advertising." The brewery is considering basic repackaging designs and the first campaign will appear in April.

In addition, Beck says, "new management wants to work with someone they know." The account move comes shortly after the arrival of Plzensky Prazdroj's new Vice President of Marketing, Milan de Millan, who worked with Y&R in his previous position as general manager of Benckiser in the Czech and Slovak Republics. de Millan joined Plzensky Prazdroj last September.

Specific advertising budgets for the coming year have not been revealed, but Plzensky Prazdroj spent roughly $2.2m on advertising in 1996 and the total budget is expected to grow by 30%-40% in 1997.

Part of Plzensky Prazdroj's upcoming strategy includes strengthening its position in the U.S., Canada, and Germany. The brewery is already negotiating with the Creative Hardsell ad agency in Germany.

Copyright January 1997, Crain Communications Inc.

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