|Shake Ups in the Ad Industry
By: Dwayne W. Waite Jr.
In the past few days there has been quite the stir in the advertising industry. Agencies have been cut from rosters or have given up the work. We'll take this time to highlight a few of the bigger developments.
First, it is being reported that Heineken USA is ending its four-year relationship with The Richards Group, the Dallas-based independent shop that was handling the Amstel Light account. The Richards Group was responsible for the "Dam good Bier" tagline and creative, which was recently dropped and the brand reverted to its old "The Beer Drinker's Light Beer." It is interesting, too, that this change is coming right before Heineken USA is about to introduce a wheat beer to the U.S., starting first in 31 markets. This is also yet another change under the new CMO, who started in February. It is a shame to see an independent shop lose out after only four years, but it makes sense to see a change under a new CMO. A new CMO usually means a shift in strategy, which more than likely means a change in its agency roster. Hopefully the CMO and crew go away from the whole "light beer tastes great too," because there's another brand in the U.S. doing that, and its plunge in sales and profits should prove to be a tell about that kind of positioning.
Next, sticking with the beer industry, DDB ended its 30-year relationship with Anheuser-Busch by terminating the global account it had with AB InBev. In those years, DDB mostly worked on the Bud Light account. People could see this coming, though, since DDB's work with Bud Light and Budweiser has been shrinking. DDB, which is part of the Omnicom Group, has recently done work the company globally, but since being excluded from recent reviews it decided it was time to end the partnership. The agency is now free to explore other alcohol brands, which might work for them since Heineken USA may be looking for a shop with experience. We can't be as sympathetic with DDB as we are with The Richards Group; the former has had this account for three decades, while the latter barely scratched the surface. Plus, as an Omnicom agency, if it started to hurt, the group could shift work around to keep it afloat.
Lastly, only a few weeks after Weber Shandwick and a fellow IPG agency won the sought-after Kellogg's public relations account, it resigned the account. The cause? The report is that there was a huge conflict of interest and the agencies couldn't possibly continue handling the account. It proves to be a major bummer for Weber Shandwick, as the agency has never worked on any of its brands before. This news isn't fun for Kellogg, either; now it has to go back to the list of agencies and pick another one to partner with.
All in all, it has been an exciting shakeup in AdLand. We are disappointed to see that the Richards Group had no chance to defend the account, having only stepped in the door of the business. Why CMOs think it is necessary to clean a roster out when they come in is beyond us. Having a policy that says not to allow an agency to defend is questionable too, and doesn't create an atmosphere for building a relationship (which so many businesses say they want).
With Heineken USA dropping an agency, and DDB dropping a client, would it be a match made in heaven for these two to connect? Should DDB go for the rebound?
As the industry continues to churn, it will only be a matter of time until the next big moves.
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