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Diageo Asks Shops for Range Of Media Info

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LOS ANGELES--English food and beverage giant Diageo's consolidated $150 million U.S. beer and spirits media review is as much a primer on the American media landscape as it is an evaluation of contenders' merits, sources said. But its goals are familiar: better rates and more efficient marketing efforts across brands.

"I think they're doing it because [they can achieve] lower fees and cross-pollinate the brands," said one executive. "They'd be able to ensure that Smirnoff Ice and Guinness beers ... which compete against each other, wouldn't be in the same pod."

Diageo recently combined the U.S. marketing operations of Guinness Brewing and United Distillers & Vintners, and completed its purchase with Pernod of Seagram.

The review is "a lot of work," noted one source. In the spring, contenders presented an audit of their media activities at Diageo's U.S. headquarters in Stamford, Conn. A project is next, with presentations set for the next few weeks, sources said. A decision is due by mid-September.

The brief asked shops for ideas on "cost, innovation, staffing, how to get liquor on TV," said another source. "They wanted information on cost per thousand, cost per point, magazine positioning, added value, merchandising, you name it. They even went into asking agencies for a review of the media landscape in the U.S."

Incumbents include Havas' CIA Medianetwork and Grey's MediaCom, both New York, and Bcom3's Starcom in Chicago (which splits UDV media duties with its New York-based sister, MediaVest). MindShare, New York, is in by virtue of sister agency J. Walter Thompson, which handles several UDV brands.

Although shops are presenting to a committee of U.S. Diageo officials, sources said the review is being managed by London consultant Malcolm Woolley, a former Diageo executive.