Bass Breweries is looking for a new advertising agency following its split with WCRS this week.
Although the split was described as "amicable," WCRS and Bass are thought to have experienced long-term difficulties agreeing on a creative direction for Carling, an account which the agency has held for 16 years.
The tense situation led WCRS to accept a brief to pitch for Holsten Pils, brewed by Scottish Courage, one of Bass's main rivals. WCRS is pitching against Leagas Delaney and incumbent TBWA for the £5 million Holsten Pils account.
WCRS's relationship with Bass had been steadily deteriorating over the last couple of years, demonstrated by the fact that the agency lost Bass's Caffreys and Worthington brands to rivals.
Bass has a good choice of agencies which will be vying to pitch for its business. The brewer currently works with The Leith Agency (Grolsch, Tennents), Roose & Partners (Caffreys), Publicis (Worthington) and Euro RSCG Wnek Gosper (Hooch). The WCRS brands up for review -- Carling, Staropramen, Bass Ale and Asahi -- are worth a total of around £12 million.
Mark Hunter, the marketing director of Bass Brewers, said: "Sixteen years is a long time in a brand's life cycle and sometimes a very basic change like this is a catalyst for all parties involved."
Stephen Woodford, the chief executive of WCRS, said: "We'll always be very proud that we created some of Britain's best-loved advertising for Bass, but we both feel that now is the time to move on to pastures new."
There will be a short transitional period during which the relationship will wind down and during which the relationship will wind down while Bass appoints a new agency. Hunter expects to have one in place by the end of the summer.
Bass is poised to sell its brewing arm for around £2 billion within the next few days, as the European brewing industry enters a new phase of consolidation.