Miller: G’Day, JWT

J. Walter Thompson has plenty of time to brush up on its knowledge of all things Australian before it develops new creative for Miller Brewing Co.’s Foster’s brand.
The brewery, based in Milwaukee, has nine spots ready by Foster’s prior agency, Angotti Thomas Hedge in New York, a Miller representative said. The strategy behind Foster’s long-running “How to speak Australian” campaign will remain, as will the tag, client and agency officials said.
“It’s obviously been a highly regarded campaign,” said Brian
Heffernan, president of the Chicago agency. However, he added, “I’m sure there are ways to move it forward.”
Foster’s run with Angotti was successful. When John Bowlin took over the brewery last year, Foster’s was the one brand campaign he deemed “world class.” But JWT was handed the $9 million account after Tony Angotti left the shop, and it was absorbed earlier this month by fellow Interpublic Group shop Gotham, New York [Adweek, April 3]. Gotham said it took over the Foster’s business, but that is not true, said the brewery.
“In our mind, the account was never going to Gotham,” said Miller representative Peter Marino. “We took this as an opportunity to move the account to JWT. They’ve proven they know the beer business.”
Although the Miller representative declined to say whether other shops were considered for the brand, the move is a sign that the client considers JWT’s MGD work, which broke in January under the tag, “Never miss a genuine opportunity,” a success.
“It’s just a classic case of receiving additional work from a satisfied client,” Heffernan said. “This is clearly as a result of the relationship we’re building and the success with MGD.”
It is the second time JWT, under the creative helm of dennis Ryan, has gained a Miller brand without a fight. Last July, Miller moved its $60 million MGD account to JWT from Wieden & Kennedy, Portland, Ore.
Foster’s “How to speak Australian” effort, with the tag, “Foster’s. It’s Australian for beer,” first broke with outdoor ads by Angotti in the early 1990s. Miller acquired the rights to import and distribute Foster’s in 1993. Foster’s media expenditures were $9 million in 1999, according to Competitive Media Reporting.
–with Trevor Jensen