Gearon Adds Seagram Brands

Gearon Hoffman has picked up additional work for The Seagram Spirits & Wine Group, a longtime client.

The Boston agency recently won creative chores for the beverage giant’s coolers, mixers and ginger ales. Those brands had previously been assigned to DeVito/Verdi, New York. Though spending was not disclosed, the budget is expected to be about $5-6 million this year, sources said.

The products generated little if any advertising last year; spending was about $2 million in 2000, according to CMR.

Bob Hoffman, president of the shop, said the agency has been trying to extend its experience in the beverage category for the past year. “We’ve been very successful in that category, and I’m sure that’s part of the reason we got these assignments,” he said.

Gearon worked with Boston Beer on the Sam Adams and Hard Core Cider brands from 1988-1995 and with Mass Bay Brewing Co. in 1999. The new coolers win represents the shop’s first venture into the malt beverage category.

For the coolers division, Gearon is creating print and radio advertisements that will launch next month. That product line includes fruit-flavored “malternatives,” such as Wild Pink Lemonade, Wild Berry Pina Colada and Wild Strawberry Daiquiri.

Work for the ginger ales/mixers portion of the assignment is still in the planning stage and will come to light in the spring, according to Hoffman. That category includes seltzer waters, plain and raspberry-flavored ginger ales, club sodas and other mixing ingredients.

All media planning and buying for Seagram is handled through Carat, New York.

Gearon has worked with New York-based Seagram since 1996 on its Grolsch beer brand, producing print, outdoor and radio ads that play up the beer’s Dutch heritage. Radio and outdoor ads for Grolsch—the latter often showing busty barmaids—have used the tagline, “Unlike anything elsch.”

Seagram’s businesses, previously owned by Viv-endi Universal, were re-cently acquired by British food and beverage manufacturer Diageo and Pernod Ricard USA, a unit of French beverage company Pernod Ricard.

Gearon Hoffman continues to leverage its category experience, pitching the $1-2 million Bulmers America Strongbow hard cider account against crosstown shops Clarke Goward and Fort Franklin, and New York’s Earl Palmer Brown.