Pete’s To Leave Black Rocket High And Dry

Beer importer Gambrinus, which has announced an agreement to acquire Pete’s Brewing Co. for $68 million, plans to end the relationship between the microbrewer and its agency of record, Black Rocket, said sources. It is unclear what the new owner will do with the estimated $5 million account.
Gambrinus plans to move the Pete’s operation from Palo Alto, Calif., to its headquarters in San Antonio, Texas, once the acquisition is finalized later this year, said sources.
Gambrinus, which imports and distributes Moosehead and Corona beers, will either conduct a review for a shop to handle creative and media duties for the Pete’s Wicked Ale brand or award the account to one of its roster shops. Gambrinus works with three agencies: The Richards Group and PGC Advertising, both in Dallas; and Fogarty Klein & Partners, San Antonio.
Executives at Pete’s and Gambrinus declined to comment. John Yost, president of Black Rocket, said the agency has not received any official word from the client, but conceded “it’s a possibility that the business could go away.” The San Francisco shop recently received approval from Pete’s on a new outdoor campaign to break later this year.
Sources said Black Rocket’s contract with Pete’s expires this year and that the two have been negotiating for a new deal for weeks. The client has not yet signed an agreement because it wants to be “unencumbered,” said sources.
Black Rocket won the business in early 1997. It was previously handled by Gotham in New York and before that by Goodby, Silverstein & Partners here, which created award-winning work for the microbrewer.
Founded in 1986, Pete’s is best-known for its Wicked Ale brand, which is distributed in 49 states and the U.K. The company has recently felt the heat from other brewers flooding the craft beer category. Pete’s sales last year dropped to $65 million, from $78 million in 1996.
–with Glen Fest