Fort Franklin Brews Anew

Fort Franklin, the small agency helmed by former Arnold Communications creative executive Marc Gallucci, is preparing to launch its first major work for Cider Jack since the brand’s acquisition by a British beverage company.

The campaign includes a half-dozen 30-second TV spots, print ads, radio executions, a package redesign and promotional materials.

Blitz Media, Natick, Mass., handles media chores.

The humorous TV spots, which center around a group of likeable guys in a bar, will run for a month in test markets across the country and will likely run again in the spring. The spots center around the idea of starting the night off with Cider Jack and still feature the atypical and dark humor past campaigns had. The campaign, which uses no specific tagline, breaks in mid-October.

“Basically, cider is ill-defined in the U.S. People not only don’t know what it is, but they don’t know when to drink it,” said Wendy Kramer, marketing director at Bulmers, the London-based company that bought the American Hard Cider Co., Boston, in December. “We asked Fort Franklin to create an edgy, creative campaign that grabs the attention of our demographic and tells them when to drink cider.”

The commercials mark the first TV campaign for the brand. They target 21-28 year-olds and will run on MTV, ESPN, ESPN2, FX and E!.

TV is being tried owing to an infusion of capital from Bulmers.

Despite Gallucci’s long tenure with the brand—he’s been Cider Jack’s lone creative resource since 1993—he was put through several “mini-reviews” by the brand’s new owner. “They had me jumping through hoops,” said Gallucci. “It was absolute hell.”

Gallucci found out later that 10-person Fort Franklin, Boston, had competed against TBWA\Chiat\Day, London, the advertising agency that handles the account for Strong-bow, another Bulmers brand, in a silent review. “I didn’t know I was fighting them off,” said Gallucci.

In the end, Gallucci prevailed: “The reason they bought Cider Jack was because of the brand. They kept me because I developed that brand.”

All of this resulted in an extended contract which “stabilizes the agency very well.” The length and amount of the contract was not disclosed. Bulmers also began to “pour a lot of time and effort” into the brand.