Fallon Keeps Lite, But Riney Stays Afloat

Fallon McElligott has emerged victorious in its battle to hold onto the $150 million Miller Lite account–a dramatic save that has left four other contenders, including Publicis & Hal Riney in San Francisco, high and dry for now.
Fallon, Riney, Square One in Dallas and Wieden & Kennedy in New York all met last week in New York with executives from Miller’s parent company, Phillip Morris. The meeting was said to be a “check-off” of Miller’s decision to go with Fallon.
A fifth competitor, Young & Rubicam in New York, was cut earlier.
All may not be lost for Riney. Sources said although Fallon retains Lite, Riney could play some future role either on the brand or in corporate advertising for Miller. Agency and Miller executives were still talking late last week about the potential for future assignments, said sources. Wieden’s Portland, Ore., office retains ad duties for Miller Genuine Draft.
Of all the shops competing for the Lite brand, Riney was the only one not on the Miller roster. Sources said Riney secured a place in the review through the personal efforts of chairman Hal Riney, who is a close friend of Jack Rooney, Miller’s vice president of marketing [Adweek, Nov. 9].
Fallon’s winning idea was a closely guarded secret subject to many rumors, including one that the new work will be a contemporary take on the ads that made the brand famous: the All Stars campaign featuring retired jocks and assorted tough guys.
Officials at the Minneapolis shop would not comment beyond a prepared statement: “We are pleased to have received this vote of confidence from the brewery.”
The brewer said only that Fallon is continuing as its agency after a “thorough and disciplined evaluation of the long-term vitality and performance of the Miller Lite brand,” that included consumer research and talking “with people whom we trust and who know the beer business.”
Media buying remains at Starcom Media Services in Chicago.
–with Jane Irene Kelly