Sauza Near Decision on Tequila Account

A small number of undisclosed shops vying for the creative portion of Sauza tequila’s estimated $15 million account are scheduled to make final presentations next week, sources said.

The review, launched a few months ago, was put on hold until several weeks ago, said sources. Incumbent Bates USA is not defending the business, sources said. The shop won the Sauza tequila account in March 1999, beating out Cliff Freeman and Partners and Weiss Stagliano Partners.

Bates’ most recent work for Sauza, owned by Allied Domecq Spirits U.S.A. in Westport, Conn., was a print campaign for its Hornitos tequila brand, which broke in February 2000. The ads showed black-and-white 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.

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

Bates did not comment on the review, nor on its relationship with the client. Avery Schmeisser, the client’s marketing director of the Sauza brands, declined to comment.

The media portion of the account will be retained by Publicis’ Zenith Media in New York, said sources.

Allied Domecq’s other chief brands include Beefeater Gin, Stolichnaya Vodka, Ballantine’s Whisky and Kahlua. 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 brands, according to CMR.