Foster’s Seeks New Path For Ads

Hoping to reverse a sales decline, Foster’s Lager is charging its new creative shop, Ogilvy & Mather, with expanding the “Australian for beer” campaign into new terrain via “escapist” imagery, said client rep Scott Bussen.

The approach, noted Bussen, has worked for one of Foster’s biggest imported-beer rivals, No. 1 seller Corona, which shows vacationers lounging on tropical beaches in ads tagged, “Miles away from ordinary.”

“Foster’s offers some great imagery in terms of the Australian heritage,” Bussen said. “We want to capitalize on that and evolve it.”

Parent company SABMiller moved Foster’s estimated $15 million U.S. creative account to WPP Group’s Ogilvy in New York last week after Wieden + Kennedy in Portland, Ore., failed to sell an “Australian for beer” idea during its 10-month tenure on the account.

Foster’s has recorded no measured-media spending so far this year. A spot that ran last year from WPP’s J. Walter Thompson in Chicago, a Miller roster shop, showed a bride diving into a barrel of ice for a Foster’s as the groom looks on. The punchline: “Keeper.”

No. 8 Foster’s saw U.S. sales slide 7 percent last year to 8.5 million cases, according to trade publication Impact. Corona, which spent about $45 million on ads last year, according to Nielsen Monitor-Plus, was up 2 percent to 95 million cases.

Foster’s spent about $5 million on ads in 2003, according to Nielsen Monitor-Plus.