Miller Lite Moves to LatinWorks

Fast-track LatinWorks will become part of the Ogilvy & Mather network, on the heels of winning the $20-25 million national Hispanic creative account of Miller Lite, sources said.

Details of the alliance could not be confirmed at press time last week, but the move will create the first Hispanic marketing affiliate for New York-based Ogilvy’s agency network.

LatinWorks principal Alejandro Ruelas referred questions to Ogilvy. O&M representative Toni Lee confirmed an announcement will be made this week, but declined to elaborate.

Austin, Texas-based LatinWorks was founded in 1998 by former Anheuser-Busch executives Ruelas and Manny Flores, in partnership with executive creative director Sergio Alcocer.

Prior to last week’s Miller Lite Hispanic account win, the shop had grown to more than $30 million in billings with accounts such as Miller Genuine Draft, SBC Communications and Ralston Purina.

Miller Brewing confirmed last week it had shifted Hispanic advertising for its Miller Lite brand to LatinWorks, from Uno Comunicaciones, a division of Dallas-based Square One.

Square One retains only the Icehouse brand from Miller.

“We’re looking at it as a shuffling of assignments among our agency roster to get the most out of everyone involved,” said Miller representative Scott Bussen. “We are kicking off the first major campaign for Icehouse in a while, so we wanted the [Square One] team focused on that.”

Square One did, in fact, launch a television commercial last week for Icehouse in a regional Southeast media buy. With the tagline “We’ll make the Icehouse. You make the ads,” the spot invites viewers to submit their own ideas for future commercials, some of which Square One will later produce and air.

Spending for the Latino campaign was not disclosed. Less than $1 million was spent on advertising last year, according to CMR.

The defection of one of Square One’s earliest clients threw the agency into some turmoil last week. The shop laid off seven employees, and the account move also may have speeded a board vote changing the configuration of the agency’s top management.

Ernie Capobianco, chief operating officer at Square One, notedthat even with the Miller Lite loss, both current billings and the number of staff personnel top last year’s totals.