Last month Bacardi agency Johannes Leonardo declined to participate in the rum marketer’s recently-called global creative review and resigned its U.S. business, sources said.
The WPP-backed New York boutique, which had worked on the brand for just over a year, declined to comment. Johannes Leonardo won the account in May 2011, taking over from WPP’s Y&R which had worked with Bacardi for six years.
Sources familiar with Bacardi say the marketer has struggled to create a consistent brand communications strategy to help it regain its industry prominence. Guillermo Rodriguez, vp, managing director of Bacardi’s Eastern commercial business unit, is on the record saying the company is focused on becoming the top spirits brand again by 2015, having lost that prominance in recent years to Smirnoff. Adding more pressure to that timetable is the arrival of a new CEO at Bacardi Limited, Edward Shirley, who was appointed to the job in March and replaced retiring Seamus McBride. Shirley was previously vice chairman of beauty and grooming for Procter & Gamble and is a Gillette veteran executive.
Sources said creative differences contributed to the split between Johannes Leonardo and Bacardi. Earlier this year, the agency created a digital trilogy celebrating Bacardi’s 150th anniversary, using 60-second films to underscore the brand’s heritage.