Heineken Seeks ‘Light’ Line Ideas

Heineken USA is reaching out beyond its New York agency for creative ideas on a new Heineken line extension, sources said last week.

The brewer’s lead agency in the U.S. is Publicis, which had provided ad support for the new light beer while it was in four test markets (Providence, R.I., Tampa, Fla., Dallas and Phoenix) this spring and summer. It also handles U.S. advertising for the client’s Amstel and Amstel Light brands, an estimated $25 million account.

It is believed the White Plains, N.Y., client has been holding tissue sessions with Publicis, WPP Group’s Berlin Cameron United and Publicis sibling and former Miller shop Fallon in Minneapolis. Publicis and Berlin Cameron declined comment; Fallon did not return calls.

Sources said Publicis Groupe offered Fallon as a creative resource to try to keep the account in the family when the client said it was open to ideas from other agencies. But the client is believed to have inquired at MDC Partners’ Crispin Porter + Bogusky in Miami, which declined due to its work with Miller.

Heineken Premium Light is set to launch nationally in April.

Publicis has handled the $50 million U.S. Heineken brand since late 2002, when it was inherited from now-defunct D’Arcy. The review comes as global cd David Droga leaves Publicis to start his own venture under the parent company.

The agencies will make final presentations on Heineken Light around Thanksgiving, and a decision is expected shortly thereafter, per sources.

Heineken USA rep Dan Tearno would not identify the agencies pitching Heineken Light nor comment on its relationship with Publicis, except to say that it continues “to be our agency of record.” He would not comment on media spending for the new product, but said it would be “very substantial.”