- Bass Brewers has stunned its principal agency WCRS by beginning a secret review of its high-profile £5 million Caffrey's Irish Ale account. WCRS, which successfully launched the brand in 1994, will not to repitch.
Bass is understood to be have shortlisted at least three London agencies, for the business, which will be awarded on creative basis only. Media -- handled by BBJ -- is unaffected by the review.
Mark Hunter, Bass's marketing director, who is heading the review, said: "Yes, we have decided to look at a new agency for Caffrey's Irish Ale. We've worked successfully with the agency for a number of years, but Caffrey's has reached a stage in its life where we believe it would benefit from a fresh approach. As a result, we've decided to look at other agencies."
Stephen Woodford, WCRS's managing director, commented: "Caffrey's has been one of WCRS' great successes, but we understand why Bass wants to widen its portfolio of agencies."
The Caffrey's review does not affect WCRS's remaining Bass brands -- Carling, Carling Permier, Asahi, Staropramen and Bass Ales.
Bass launched Caffreys on St Patrick's Day 1994, creating a new category in the beer market with a product designed to appeal to "modern consumers" who drink lager, bitter or stout.
Caffrey's success meant that the other big brewers quickly followed Bass into the new category. Courage launched John Smith's Extra Smooth, Tetley launched its own Smooth Ale, Guinness launched Kilkenny and Whitbread launched Boddingtons.
The first work for Caffrey's was created by Poulters, using the line: "Cool, calm Caffrey's." WCRS won the consumer launch in April 1994 along with a handful of other Bass brands, including Draught Bass, Bass LA, and Staropramen, which had been handled by Edwards Martin Thornton. WCRS already worked on the brewer's flagship brand, Carling Black Label.
WCRS's 80-second launch commercial contrasted shots of a frenetic New York bar with the serene Irish countryside, providing a visual representation of Caffrey's slogan, "Strong words softly spoken."
The agency's last television work for Caffreys featured four close friends on a night out, set to the sound of "Brim Full of Asha" by Asian band Cornershop. The smoothness of the creamy ale prompts a moment of quiet contemplation and a quieter soundtrack.
Caffrey's is keen to maintain its dominant position in the smooth ale market, of which it had 15.6 per cent by value last year.