Foster’s Wine Taps Vizeum

NEW YORK Aegis Group’s Vizeum took another step toward establishing itself in North America, winning the domestic planning and buying account of Foster’s Wine Estates following a review, the agency has confirmed.

The incumbent, Publicis Groupe’s Starcom, did not defend. Independent Horizon Media and possibly one undisclosed other agency contested the business, per sources. Vizeum will handle the account from its office in San Francisco.

Foster’s spent slightly more than $15 million on advertising in 2005, according to Nielsen Monitor-Plus. The review involved only the U.S. wine group.

Despite the relatively modest budget, the win is important to Vizeum because it helps the network enhance its presence in the domestic market where it is a virtual unknown—unlike its Aegis sibling Carat, which has long been established beyond its European base.

Vizeum this summer named Jamie Edwards chief client officer for North America [Adweek Online, July 17]. Edwards helped launch Vizeum in Europe three years ago, and he now looks to build the company into a significant U.S. player. In September, Vizeum opened its U.S. operations with assignments from EuroStar and Schick. (Vizeum’s London office is a finalist in the ongoing $1.1 billion Fox Filmed Entertainment review, competing against MindShare and Zenith Optimedia.)

Foster’s U.S. wine division is based in Napa City, Calif., and markets several dozen labels such as Beringer and Meridian.

The unit is a subsidiary of the Foster’s Group of Melbourne, Australia, which also distributes beer, spirits and non-alcoholic beverages.

Creative development, handled by Publicis Groupe’s Hal Riney & Partners in San Francisco, was not part of the review.