Three Left Standing in Finlandia’s Global Review

Finlandia Vodka is expected to make a decision this week in the review for its $10 million worldwide creative account.

Arnold in St. Louis, and Interpublic Group siblings Bozell and Lowe Lintas & Partners, both New York, took part in final pitches at the client’s Louisville, Ky., headquarters two weeks ago, global marketing director Scott Reid confirmed.

The brand is 45 percent owned by Brown-Forman, marketer of Southern Comfort and Canadian Mist, and 55 percent owned by The Altia Group of Helsinki, Finland.

Two of the contenders have experience in spirits advertising. In May, Havas-owned Arnold acquired the Midwest shop formerly known as Simmons Durham, which handled Brown-Forman’s Jack Daniel’s brands.

Lowe Lintas’ Finland office previously worked on the Finlandia brand and the New York office used to handle Smirnoff vodka.

Reid, an 18-year Brown-Forman veteran, is heading up the review. He is responsible for global advertising, packaging, line extensions and online efforts. “The intent is to have a global ad campaign that travels really well around the world,” Reid said.

Jane Maas, chairman emeritus and former president at Earle Palmer Brown in New York, is managing the process, which began in early August. “Most importantly, [the client] is looking for a long-term campaign that has a lot of legs. … Campaigns that can last 20 years,” said Maas.

The most recent effort for the vodka via Mezzina/Brown in New York played up the brand’s superior ratings in a blind taste test conducted by Russian Life magazine. The tagline: “Tasting is believing.” The bulk of media planning and buying is handled by an in-house group at Brown-Forman, said Reid.

According to CMR, the brand spent less than $3 million on U.S. measured media in 2000 and $600,000 for the first six months of 2001.