Arnold Communications may be on the verge of breaking into the spirits category. Seagram Americas last week said discussions are under way with New England's largest agency about possible project work.
Karin Timpone, a Seagram representative in New York, confirmed that discussions about "some new product assignments" have taken place but said no contracts have been signed. She also said the talks did not constitute a review and was unsure just how the agency and client were introduced.
Industry sources said Arnold is at work developing ideas for a superpremium brand of vodka in development by Seagram. The distributor owns marketing rights to Absolut, the second best-selling vodka in the U.S. last year after Smirnoff. Seagram's new product would not compete against Absolut, a premium vodka, but would rival a host of relative newcomers in the superpremium market such as Grey Goose and Chopin, which retail between $27-$35 a bottle, versus $16 for a comparably sized bottle of Absolut, Smirnoff or Stolichnaya.
Fran Kelly, chief marketing officer at Arnold, would not comment when asked about the Seagram assignment last week. Arnold has little spirits marketing experience. Years ago, both Kelly and chief creative officer Ron Lawner worked on the Molson and Steinlager beer accounts.
The Seagram assignment under discussion is separate from the reviews being conducted for Seagram's Gin, 7 Crown Blended Whiskey and V.O. Canadian Whiskey, Timpone said. Those products had been handled by Ogilvy & Mather in New York, which continues to service other brands for the client. Grey Advertising in New York is also a Seagram roster shop.
TBWA Chiat/Day, New York, has created ads for Absolut since 1980. "Absolut Perfection," the original ad in the brand's long-running campaign, featured the bottle with a halo over it. --with Andrew McMains