FFwd Returns to Beer Category

The beer is flowing again at FFwd.

The Dallas shop, whose brewery business had gone flat after losing Labatt USA two years ago, has won Newcastle Brown Ale.

The victory also marks Newcastle’s return to advertising in the U.S. after a hiatus of several years.

Formerly known as The Marketing Continuum, FFwd long held the $10 million promotions account of Labatt USA, marketer of beer brands including Rolling Rock and Dos Equis.

After losing that account in 1999, the agency remained on tap with project work for brands such as Bass Ale and Pete’s Wicked Ale.

The win of Newcastle, following a national agency review, brings it back into the category full scale.

“We’ve got 17 years of beer experience, so we’re going to apply that to building a significant brand in the imported beer category,” said FFwd general manager David Mullen.

Newcastle’s parent company plans to increase its advertising investment in the U.S., said Bill Wetmore, commercial manager of Scottish & Newcastle Importers, which markets the brew here.

Newcastle Brown Ale is the importer’s signature brand, although it markets seven other specialty products in smaller regions.

The last agency to work with Newcastle in the U.S. was Butler, Shine & Stern of Sausalito, Calif.

A national campaign will include radio, outdoor, print, promotions and merchandising. Both Mullen and Wetmore declined comment on the budget.

But an advertising executive handling a competing specialty beer brand said it could range from $2-5 million for a push in a handful of major markets to $10-15 million for complete saturation.

Either way, FFwd is positioned to realize double-digit growth this year with the addition of Newcastle and Alltel as clients and more work from Hollywood Casinos.

“We’re fortunate that while other agencies are downsizing, we’re actually growing,” Mullen said of his 50-person agency.