Lite Pitch Final Straw For Y&R, Miller

Young & Rubicam’s inability to score a larger beer assignment after six years with Miller Brewing, and its failure to win the coveted Miller Lite review, led the two parties to mutually split.
The Milwaukee brewer last week turned Molson and Icehouse, the brands handled by Y&R in New York, over to roster shop Square One in Dallas. The two brands accounted for $15 million in annual ad spending. The client’s Leinenkugel’s line and some international work handled by Y&R in Chicago will be reassigned at a later date, the brewer said.
Spending on Icehouse, which was introduced in 1994, and Molson had dwindled from a high of nearly $45 million in 1995 to about $15 million last year, according to Competitive Media Reporting. The decline in billings was a factor in Y&R’s waning desire for the business.
The decision to part ways is not expected to affect Y&R’s other work for Miller parent Philip Morris, including its Kraft business, but does free the agency to pursue other beer accounts, sources said.
Y&R’s pitch for the $150 million Miller Lite business–a review eventually won by incumbent Fallon McElligott in Minneapolis–apparently didn’t go far with the client, sources said.
The final showdown in the Lite review was between Fallon and Wieden & Kennedy, Portland, Ore., who both pitched ideas for an updated “All-Stars” campaign, sources said. Wieden won Miller’s attention early on with that direction, and the brewer, in a hurry to develop new creative, gave the agency the go-ahead to produce some work with storied director Joe Pytka. Three spots were shot, sources said, but the finished product failed to impress Miller executives.
“Fallon one-upped them,” with its version of “All-Stars,” sources said.
Publicis & Hal Riney, San Francisco, and Square One also reached the final round.
Details of the Y&R pitch were not available.