Wieden Exits Heineken Pitch

NEW YORK Wieden + Kennedy said it has pulled out of the Heineken USA review over strategic differences with the client.

Wieden in Portland, Ore., and WPP Group’s Berlin Cameron United were the only two finalists left in the pursuit of the estimated $80 million domestic account, which includes Heineken and Heineken Premium Light. Berlin Cameron is the incumbent on HPL, which it landed in December 2005 and launched in March 2006.

Publicis USA’s New York office had handled Heineken and Amstel Light since 2003 and was cut from an earlier round of the current review in December.

In a statement, Wieden COO Dave Luhr said, “It is never an easy decision to pull out of a pitch after we have invested such a great deal of energy and resources over the last five months. We have a difference of opinion on the strategic direction of this account. I think at this point we must choose what is in the best interest of our agency and that is to pull out of the review. Our time is better spent focusing our creative energies on our current client roster. We continue to respect the Heineken brand and wish them the best going forward.”

Wieden and Berlin Cameron made what were to be final presentations to the White Plains, N.Y., client in mid-January. A decision was expected shortly thereafter but none was forthcoming. The client earlier this month asked both agencies to present another round of work. Those pitches were set for March 13, according to sources.

At the time, sources said client executives in the U.S. and Amsterdam were split in their support between both agencies. Heineken would not comment on what was delaying the decision.

The fate of the account is now up in the air with Wieden’s withdrawal.

Sources could not discern if Berlin Cameron would win by default or if the client would open the process to other agencies.

A Heineken representative had no comment on Wieden’s withdrawal or if other agencies would be invited to pitch.

Wieden had no comment beyond its statement. Berlin Cameron referred calls to the client.

Heineken USA announced the review of its U.S. account in June; it got under way in August.