Modernista! Emerges in Bid for Sauza Tequila

Modernista! last week emerged as a contender for the creative portion of Sauza’s estimated $15 million account, sources said.

The Boston agency is competing for the tequila brand against Goodby, Silverstein & Partners, San Francisco, Crispin Porter + Bogusky of Miami, and New York-based dRush, a unit of Deutsch and a roster shop of Sauza parent Allied Domecq, according to sources.

A decision is expected this week. Client marketing director Avery Schmeisser declined to confirm the contenders; agency executives declined comment.

Modernista! works for several national brands, including the Gap, General Motors’ Hummer, MTV, Rossignol and Roxio, though it does not have a spirits client on its roster.

Agency co-founders and creative directors Lance Jensen and Gary Koepke led the pitch for Sauza.

Creative incumbent Bates, New York, did not defend. It had won the account in 1999, beating out crosstown shops Cliff Freeman and Partners and Weiss Stagliano Partners.

One source said Bates will retain below-the-line advertising and marketing-integration duties because the shop’s marketing-integration unit, Bates 141, has a strong relationship with Allied Domecq.

Bates has declined to comment on the review or on its relationship with the client. The media portion of the account is expected to be retained by Publicis’ Zenith Media in New York, said sources.

Bates’ most recent work for Sauza was a print campaign for its Hornitos tequila brand, which broke in February 2000. Ads included photos of a woman dancing in a nightclub and targeted an adult male audience under 35. The tagline: “Stay pure.” The effort appeared in magazines such as Men’s Journal, GQ, Spin and Maxim.

Sauza’s primary competitors are Diageo’s Jose Cuervo and Constellation Brands’ Montezuma. The client spent $8 million on advertising in 2000 on all Sauza tequila offerings, according to CMR.