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Snapple Beverage Corp. has enlisted its U.S. ad agency to act as a consultant in the New Age beverage marketer's first international agency search.

Kirshenbaum & Bond's assignment also includes assisting Snapple in the search for an agency to handle Hispanic marketing in the U.S.

Jude Hammerle, Snapple VP-advertising and promotion, said the international searches are already under way in the U.K., Asia and South America, and are expected to be completed in May.

"We just started a strong international push in the last 12 months," Mr. Hammerle said. "Now that we have a critical mass of distribution, we can start talking to" agencies.

Currently, Snapple is marketed in about 15 countries outside the U.S., including the U.K., Canada, Norway, Mexico and Hong Kong. Rollouts in Japan and Australia are also being planned.

Snapple's international billings are expected to total $4 million this year.

The search for an agency in London-where Mr. Hammerle said he expects the European account will be based-is in its final phase. BSB Dorland, of Backer Spielvogel Bates Worldwide; Euro RSCG; and Banks Hoggins O'Shea are vying for an expected $1 million account.

In Hong Kong, Kirshenbaum is looking at BSB Hong Kong, BDDP-owned Batey Communications, Bozell and an agency called Live Communications. In Tokyo, the list includes Asahi Advertising, Hakuhodo, BSB Japan and Bozell Meitsu.

"The goal is the fewest agencies possible around the world," said agency President-CEO Jon Bond, adding there is no intention of appointing a network for international advertising.

Mr. Bond, who said he wished his New York agency "had a network" to handle the expanding business, acknowledged that his contact with international shops could lead to additional affiliation for Kirshenbaum.

"I think we're open to that," he said. "We'll let it evolve naturally."

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