Suntory Water Group Taps Fletcher Martin Ewing

Suntory Water Group has awarded its advertising account to Fletcher Martin Ewing.

FME topped three other Atlanta shops—Match, Creaxion and Cole Henderson Drake—in a review for the estimated $5 million business.

“All the agencies demonstrated robust strategic thinking, and to varying degrees they knew how to translate that into a great creative product. But FME did a great job with both,” said Suntory vice president of marketing Steve Bayliss, who added that he chose the four based on their creative reputations.

One factor separating FME was the depth of experience the agency, a division of Toronto-based Maxx-com, displayed in media planning, strategy and execution, according to Bayliss.

FME’s size ($100 million in 2001 billings) also contributed to the win.

“The industry has consolidated so much in the last 10 years and will continue to grow dramatically,” Bayliss said. “We felt we could be with FME for the next five to 10 years.”

Atlanta-based Suntory’s brands include Crystal, Belmont, Hinkley, Sierra and Kentwood Springs. But it is the firm’s mountain spring water and its direct delivery service that Bayliss called the heart and soul of the business.

The entry of soft-drink giants Coca-Cola and Pepsi into the industry has forced bottled water companies to think more intelligently about marketing strategies, said Bayliss.

The way to compete, he added, is with line extensions like Nursery Water, a fluoridated product for infants and children, and to focus advertising in the home delivery market.

“The first challenge is a creative one,” Bay-liss said. “There’s a sameness to all the advertising in this industry, so the rewards of breaking out are tremendous.”

Initial advertising efforts will be limited to print and radio messages breaking next month.

“We’ll target consumers,” said FME president Andy Fletcher. “The tone will be humorous.”