Ale Importer Considers 4 Calif. Shops

By Joan Voight and Gerry Khermouch

SAN FRANCISCO–Seeking its first U.S. ad agency for an estimated $4-6 million account, Scottish & Newcastle Importers has compiled a list of four Northern California contenders.

The San Francisco company imports Newcastle Brown Ale, the flagship brand it markets.

The client is looking for aggressive, cutting-edge work that also has style and panache, said Bill Wetmore, recently appointed U.S. commercial manager for the company. He declined to name the contenders, but the list is believed to include startup Amazon Advertising in San Francisco, according to sources.

The winning agency will be called on to provide strategic thinking as well as national radio, print and outdoor advertising, said company officials.

An agency is expected to be named by the end of June and its first work will appear in late summer or fall. Initially efforts will focus on the Newcastle Brown brand, Wetmore said.

Last year the importer used wry and sometimes risque creative work from the United Kingdom in an outdoor campaign in 10 U.S. markets, but American wholesalers have been asking for more targeted advertising this year, said insiders.

The client, which markets nine brands of beer including Newcastle Brown, is also conducting elaborate sampling events and promotions to tout its products.

Brew U., a series of on-premise tastings, will be held in Texas, Florida, North Carolina and other strong beer markets. Pub crawls, where bagpiper Ian Briggs leads as many as 100 revelers on late-night rounds of taverns offering Newcastle brands, are slated for 10 Midwest and Southwest markets, Wetmore said.

As the boom in domestic microbrews has conditioned American consumers to sample and appreciate a wider variety of beer styles, the Newcastle Brown brand has enjoyed an annual growth rate of 45 percent for U.S. sales in recent years, according to Impact Databank.

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