Networks line up for global Peroni Italian beer task

LONDON - Agencies are lining up to pitch for the task of turning Peroni, the Italian beer brand, into a global player.

SABMiller, the brewing giant that bought a majority stake in Birra Peroni earlier this year, is understood to have earmarked millions of pounds to establish it on the world stage.

The process is understood to have moved a significant step further this week when SABMiller chiefs met representatives of three networks at the company's Milwaukee headquarters.

"The budgets will be huge," an industry source commented. "SABMiller really wants to do something with the Peroni brand."

Burkitt DDB has handled Peroni in the UK, producing press and poster advertising for its Nastro Azzurro beer, which is brewed specially for the British market.

The brand has shown healthy growth since many drinkers were first introduced to it at Pizza Express restaurants. Now SABMiller wants to use Peroni to enhance its presence in the rapidly growing market for premium imported beers.

The company fought off competition from Interbrew, Scottish & Newcastle and Carlsberg to secure a 60% stake in the 157-year-old Italian brewer, whose Peroni Red brand has helped it become Italy's number-two beer brand behind Heineken.

SABMiller paid £175m for a 60% stake in Peroni with an option to raise its holding to between 80% and 100% during the next three to five years.

"Every brewer envies the success of Stella Artois and SABMiller is no exception," an industry source said. "Peroni is a long way off that but is now a much more mainstream product."

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