Agencies Vie ForGuinness Account

A shift to a global strategy is driving Guinness’ planned consolidation of its flagship brand at a single agency.

Chasing the estimated $200 million prize: Saatchi & Saatchi, which handles the brand in Africa and the Caribbean, and Abbott Mead Vickers/BBDO, which has duties in Britain. Pitches are one to two weeks away; a selection is expected by month’s end.

In addition to presentations, the client will consider each agency’s global brand experience, its ability to execute ideas across multiple markets and the reach of its international network, according to Jon Potter, global brand director at Guinness.

The latter capability is crucial because Guinness is sold in more than 150 markets. It is also why Weiss Stagliano Partners in New York—the brand’s agency in the U.S. and Canada since 1991—is not part of the pitch.

Weiss Stagliano has ties to Britain through a partnership with Dublin, Ireland-based consultancy O’Malley and Hogan [Adweek, July 24] and has worked with Paris shop Australie in the past. But it lacks partners in Asia, Africa and the Caribbean. And so the shop is losing a brand that has been a strategic and creative showcase for president Adam Stagliano and creative director Marty Weiss.

It is not the end of their relationship with U.S. beer marketer Guinness Bass Import Co., however. The agency retains creative duties on Bass, Harp and Caffrey’s, and adds Red Stripe, which was previously unassigned and awarded without a review. And as James Thompson, vp of marketing at GBIC explained it, the move toward consolidation is “absolutely no reflection on this agency.” He added, “They’ve done some amazing work.”

Case in point: 1996’s “Senses,” which used sepia tones and closeups to capture the stout’s allure, or the current “Western,” which shows a Guinness drinker galloping through traffic on a horse. Looking back, Weiss said: “It has been an absolute joy to be working on this brand.” He concluded, “We had an incredible ride.”