WCRS has lost its high-profile Bell’s whisky business, becoming the
first casualty of a global advertising review by United Distillers &
The agency has forfeited the pounds 1.5 million account after six years
to Court Burkitt & Company, which already handles a number of UDV
brands, including Archers, Baileys and Malibu, in the UK. WCRS’s other
slice of UDV business, the Classic Malts, is also up for review.
Despite losing to a local agency in this instance, WCRS’s loss is part
of a worldwide rethink intended to align most of UDV’s advertising into
its three international networks - Leo Burnett, the Lowe Group and J.
As part of the international shake down, UDV also plans to centralise
its pounds 30 million media spend in the UK (Campaign, 27 February) and
this week culled MindShare from the shortlist, leaving TMD Carat and
Western International Media to fight it out.
On the creative front internationally, Burnetts handles the Johnnie
Walker brands, Gordon’s gin and Tanqueray gin; Lowes looks after the
Smirnoff brands, Bailey’s, Malibu and Sheridans; and JWT has Cinzano and
CBC is understood to have won the business because of a long association
with IDV, dating from the late 70s.
Although some other exceptions may be made locally for similar reasons,
most of UDV’s estimated 140 unaligned agencies worldwide are now bracing
themselves for bad news. In the UK, business worth an estimated pounds
30 million could be up for grabs from agencies such as St Luke’s, which
handles Tony’s Freezer Cocktails and Gin-zing, and Young & Rubicam,
which handles Jose Cuervo and Croft Sherry.
A UDV spokesman confirmed: ’The UK has taken the decision to switch the
Bell’s whisky account to CBC at a date to be mutually agreed. The
Classic Malts is still under review, as are all other brands and
Tom Rodwell, CBC’s vice-chairman, said: ’We have heard unofficially that
we have won Bell’s and we are obviously delighted. We hope to create as
good a success for the brand as we have for all our other UDV brands
over the years.’
Robin Wight, the chairman of WCRS, was not prepared to comment on the
UDV’s rethink follows the recent merger of International Distillers &
Vintners and United Distillers to form the spirits division of
It is being supervised in the UK by a new marketing director, Tony
Scouller was previously the marketing chief of IDV.