Lite Pitch Was Final Straw for Y&R and Miller

Young & Rubicam’s inability to score a larger beer assignment after six years with Miller Brewing and a perceived misstep during the recent Miller Lite review led the two parties to a mutual split.
Y&R annoyed Miller executives when it contacted parent Philip Morris to learn more about the brewery’s sales problems before its pitch, sources said. That quashed Y&R’s chances to land the $150 million account, sources said. Y&R was cut from the review before the client retained incumbent Fallon McElligott [Adweek, Jan. 25].
Last week, less than a month after the pitch, the Milwaukee brewer turned Y&R in New York’s Molson and Icehouse brands over to roster shop Square One in Dallas. The client’s Jacob Leinenkugel’s line and some international work handled by Y&R in Chicago will be reassigned at a later date.
Spending on Molson and Icehouse, which was introduced in 1994, had dwindled from a high of nearly $45 million in 1995 to about $15 million last year, per Competitive Media Reporting.
The loss is not expected to affect Y&R’s relationship with Philip Morris, which includes work for Kraft. It does, however, free the agency to pursue other beer accounts, sources said.
The decision on the coveted Lite account came down to a battle of ideas between Wieden & Kennedy and Fallon. Both pitched an updated “All Stars” campaign, sources said.
Wieden had won Miller’s attention early with that notion and the brewery, in a hurry to develop new creative, gave the agency the go-ahead to produce work with storied director Joe Pytka, sources said. Three spots were shot, but the finished product failed to impress Miller executives.
“Fallon one-upped them” with its version of “All Stars,” said a source. Publicis & Hal Riney, San Francisco, and Square One were also finalists.
Calls to Pytka’s office were not returned. The agencies declined comment. –with Glen Fest