Miller to Switch Beer Account From JWT to Ogilvy

Move Comes as Genuine Draft Sales Continue to Slide

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BOSTON ( -- SABMiller's Miller Brewing Co. is poised to switch its Miller Genuine Draft account work from WPP Group's J. Walter Thompson to sibling Ogilvy & Mather, according to executives familiar with the situation.

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The move is expected by the end of summer, according to one of the executives.

$25 million
Miller had previously indicated that JWT and Ogilvy would share the $25 million account. A Miller spokesman said there had been no change in the MGD agency situation.

Ogilvy already handles Miller's $109 million Miller Lite account, and its ad showing two buxom women wrestling in a water fountain and in wet cement has been well regarded by distributors and SABMiller, which bought the brewer from Philip Morris Cos. last year.

A JWT spokesman denied that an account switch would happen. Ogilvy referred calls to Miller.

All general market MGD work unveiled at this week's bottlers convention in Las Vegas comes from Ogilvy, executives said.

Sales falling
JWT won the lagging Genuine Draft business in 1999 without a review. It has fielded a variety of advertising executions vibrating with sexual tension but they have failed to excite consumers at the cash register. Sales of MGD, now the nation's 10th brew, have fallen 26% since 1992, according to Beer Marketer's Insights newsletter.

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Lisa Sanders contributed to this report.

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