3 Shops Seek To Spear Harpoon Ale

The Mass. Bay Brewing Co. is preparing to hear presentations from three agencies looking to handle advertising chores for the craft brewer’s Harpoon Ale.
The 12-year-old client has worked with shops in the past, mainly on collateral and design projects, but has never had a long-term agency relationship, said Charlie Story, senior vice president and brand manager for Harpoon Ale.
Holland Mark Martin Edmund, Davis & Goransson and Charles Harding Creative Services, all in Boston, are pursuing the six-figure account. Although agency executives pegged spending at $500,000, Story said the budget will largely depend on what the shops themselves recommend. However, “low-to-mid-six-figure spending” is likely, he said.
John Newton, a former Arnold Communications vice president who now works as a marketing consultant in Boston, is overseeing the review process.
In the past few years, the client has done virtually no advertising, Story said. The review is being undertaken because “our brand has opportunities [for growth] in the marketplace. We can best serve our brand development via advertising,” Story said.
In the current competition, which does not include speculative creative presentations, the client is seeking creative concepts and media recommendations for a New England campaign that could launch as early as the end of the year, Story said.
The size and specific capabilities of the contenders are not as important as the relative merits of their ideas on how to build the brand against other microbrews, Story said. Thus, four-person boutique Davis & Goransson and one-man operation Charles Harding (pitching with Neil Faber Media, New York) stand a chance against Holland Mark, a midsized, full-service shop, Story said.
Holland Mark works for startup The Three Stooges Beer and has created a launch campaign for the client which has yet to break. Harpoon and Three Stooges are not competitors and that relationship is not viewed as a conflict, said both Story and Holland Mark chairman Bill Davis.
Davis & Goransson principal Doug Goransson is a former partner of Gearon Hoffman in Boston, a longtime roster shop of Boston Beer Co. A copywriter by trade, Charles Harding worked on the Schaefer account at BBDO in New York.