Labatt Brew Review Spews List

Although Thirsting for Beer, Arnold Withdraws; Mullen Remains
BOSTON–Not since Arnold Communications staffers slaked their thirst with Molson and Steinlager in the mid-1980s have they had a beer to promote–and Labatt USA’s Sol brand won’t be next.
The Boston-based shop withdrew from a review for the $10 million account following a briefing early last week at Labatt’s offices in Norwalk, Conn.
Also at the briefing were Mullen, Wenham, Mass.; Kirshenbaum Bond & Partners, New York; McKinney & Silver, Raleigh, N.C.; The Martin Agency, Richmond, Va.; and a Canadian shop, sources said.
The review is being conducted by management consultant Monty Kiernan of the Kiernan Group in Wilton, Conn. Neither he nor Labatt representatives returned calls last week.
Sol is looking to replace Amster Yard as agency of record. The New York shop, a unit of McCann-Erickson World Group, resigned the business weeks ago.
The contenders are due back in two weeks to present speculative creative, an assignment described by one contender as being “a pretty well-defined task. We are not starting with a blank slate here.”
That was apparently what turned Arnold off. Citing the shop’s “brand essence” approach to creating advertising, senior vice president Melissa Lea said Arnold withdrew from consideration. “It has a lot to do with the timing of the assignment . . . When we pitch an account, we utilize our brand essence approach and the nature of this assignment wouldn’t have allowed us to do that,” she said.
Mullen president Joe Grimaldi said, however, that Sol was too good an opportunity to pass up. “Having a beer is a wonderful business opportunity.” Grimaldi views the Mexican import as a great chance to “build a brand in a growth category.”
McKinney, Mullen and Kirshenbaum have prior beer experience. Years ago, Mullen worked for Genesee. Kirshenbaum once promoted Iron City Beer in Pittsburgh, and McKinney was agency for Pale Rider, a Miller Brewing Co. specialty brand, through 1998. McKinney has no current assignments from Miller. Martin has no direct beer experience.
The Sol review took on added interest two weeks ago following the merger of Ammirati Puris Lintas and Lowe & Partners by their holding company parent, the Interpublic Group of Cos. Lowe is agency for Heineken; APL counts Labatt brands such as Rolling Rock and Dos Equis among its clients.
It is expected that Heineken will choose to remain with newly merged Lowe Lintas & Partners at Labatt’s expense. –with Andrew McMains