Regardless of who wins Heineken’s U.S. creative business, the marketer will have come full circle. Why? Because each of the contenders—Publicis and Wieden + Kennedy—has held the account in the past.
The New York office of Publicis handled Heineken from 2003 until March 2007, when it shifted to Berlin Cameron United in New York. Nine months later, Berlin lost the brand to Wieden + Kennedy in Portland, Ore. Wieden rode the bull a bit longer, but not much, as Euro RSCG in New York landed the account in July 2009.
Currently, both contenders work on Heineken outside the U.S., with Publicis, for example, creating campaigns in countries like Singapore, Russia and France. A Heineken USA representative cited international relationships as a key factor in selecting the contenders, each of whom is pitching out of its New York office. “To best manage the brand globally and ensure consistency, it makes sense to work with one of the two global agencies,” the rep said.
In play are both traditional and digital creative efforts on Heineken and Heineken Premium Light, with total estimated revenue of $5 million. Euro RSCG added the digital business in early 2010, a year after winning the traditional business. The brands’ media spending approached $60 million last year.
The pitch comes amid declining sales volume and the installation of new U.S. chief marketing officer Lesya Lysyj, who arrived at Heineken USA last month. Before that, Lysyj was at Kraft Foods, where she was vp of marketing on confectionery brands such as Dentyne and Stride in the U.S. She joined Kraft via its 2010 acquisition of Cadbury. Her last role at Cadbury was as evp of marketing for the U.S. and Canada.
Though not invited to defend its Heineken business, Euro RSCG remains lead agency on Dos Equis, another key brand in Heineken’s portfolio. Euro RSCG’s “Most interesting man in the world” campaign is credited with boosting Dos Equis’ sales in the U.S.
Some expect the agency’s assignment to expand into overseas markets. When asked about such talk, the Heineken rep said it was “premature to discuss plans to expand the brand outside the U.S.”
Not part of the review are media planning and buying, now at MediaVest; activation efforts (Dieste); and the brewer’s promotional business (G2).