Mike’s Hard Lemonade Eyes 3 Shops

Three shops have advanced to the final round of Mike’s Hard Lemonade’s creative review, according to sources.

Sources identified the finalists as Havas’ Arnold in New York and Omnicom Group’s Cutwater in San Francisco and Energy BBDO in Chicago. Interpublic Group’s Gotham in New York also reached the finals but withdrew, said sources.

Client executives briefed the agencies on Monday and final presentations are slated for mid- to late-January.

Major media spending on the brand totaled nearly $10 million last year and more than $9 million in the first nine months of 2009, according to Nielsen. Those figures don’t include online spending.

Mike’s markets five varieties of its malt beverage: the original Hard Lemonade, Hard Punch, Harder Lemonade, Hard Tea and Malt Cocktails.

The winner will succeed independent Amalgamated in New York, which has handled the business since early 2008. Amalgamated was among the six to eight agencies that Mike’s visited before selecting finalists, said sources.

Media duties are not in play and remain at independent Horizon Media in New York, which landed the business in the spring.

Ark Advisors in New York is managing the search. Ark did not return calls and executives at the Seattle-based brand could not immediately be reached.

Nielsen Business Media