Holsten Pils to overhaul creative as pitch is called

LONDON - For only the second time in 24 years, Holsten has put its advertising account up for review.

The AAR is drawing up a shortlist of agencies to pitch for the business, which observers suggest could mark a change in direction for the brewer as it attempts to improve its fortunes. The media account, which is held by MediaVest, is also thought to be under review.

TBWA\London, via GGT, has held the account for 24 years, but was first forced to defend the account in 2000 following the appointment of Andy Edge as Holsten's marketing director. Edge replaced Phil Plowman, who quit to oversee global marketing at Pilsner Urquell.

Over the years, TBWA has produced some highly regarded campaigns for Holsten Pils. These include spots featuring Griff Rhys Jones in scenes from black-and-white movie classics and Denis Leary delivering rants on modern life.

However, later attempts to use the comedy appeal of the cast of 'The Fast Show' failed and last year Ray Winstone was drafted in to become the frontman with the strapline: "Who's the daddy?"

At the last review, TBWA defeated challenges from WCRS and Leagas Delaney. As a consequence of that review, Holsten introduced a remuneration package for TBWA whereby the agency is paid according to the volume of Holsten sold.

Observers suggest that TBWA's grip on the business was weakened by the departure of Garry Lace, its former chief executive, who had a close relationship with Edge.

The brewer -- a subsidiary of Germany's largest brewery, Holsten-Brauerei -- has suffered from declining sales, in part owing to a change in drinking habits. Consumers favour lagers with a higher sugar content. As a result, Holsten has tried to innovate. In the summer, it launched a range of fruit-flavoured bottled lagers called Holsten Fusion. Naked was appointed to handle the communications strategy for the brand.

In 2000, Holsten also tried to diversify by launching the Duckstein variant, which was positioned as a connoisseur's beer and sold in specialist off- licences.

Holsten redesigned its green and yellow packaging and introduced a 12-pack of 33cl bottles in response to consumer demand for greater pack sizes and to encourage drinkers to trade up from four- and eight-packs.

Last month, Holsten announced that it would no longer use sponsorship as part of its brand strategy following the end of its £2m tie-up with Tottenham Hotspur Football Club. It will instead divert the money to above-the-line support.

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