Bacardi Gig for davidandgoliath

As part of an effort to expand its presence on TV, Bacardi USA has tapped david andgoliath for a creative branding project after a review that included a number of much larger shops, sources said.

The $15-20 million assignment will involve TV spots breaking early next year for the client’s flagship line of rums, sources said. The review included New York agencies McCann-Erickson and Ogilvy & Mather, BBDO in Chicago and Momentum in St. Louis, which has handled Bacardi work in the past, sources said. Media planning and buying stay with Universal McCann.

The Miami-based client has primarily used ads from Avrett, Free & Ginsberg of New York that use the theme “Bacardi by night.” It has called on Momentum for branding and promotional work and other agencies for various projects.

Sources said the plan now is to establish a TV presence for Bacardi rums with spots on cable while steering clear of network TV to avoid controversy.

The initiative comes amid indications that Bacardi USA is expanding its marketing efforts. The company, which also markets Dewars scotch and a host of lesser-known brands, spent $50 million on ads last year, including more than $20 million on rum products, according to CMR. Through August of this year, spending jumped to $55 million, with $15 million devoted to rum, per CMR.

The company did not return calls seeking comment.

One source said the company has been looking for an agency to “crack the code” in translating its print effort to TV. But the source said the client “would not push the envelope” and will focus on cable networks.

For davidandgoliath, the win is seen as a major coup largely because the 50-person shop bested some agency heavyweights to enter a category traditionally populated by few shops in the West.

“This is another example of david andgoliath breaking the mold of traditional advertising,” said agency managing partner Skip Sullivan. “This win shows that we can compete against the largest agencies and come out ahead. This is a win we are very proud of.”

Although the 3-year-old shop has never handled an alcoholic-beverage account, Sullivan noted that he and his partner, David Angelo, have worked on brands such as Seagram’s, Crown Royal and Gallo wines during their careers. “We have tons of liquor experience,” he said. “And I’m not just talking about going out and drinking.”