S&N puts cider task out to pitch

The AAR has drawn up a longlist of agencies to compete for a creative account covering five brands.

Scottish & Newcastle is looking for an agency to handle its £8 million cider brands and is using the AAR to manage the pitch process.

Leo Burnett resigned the business after it was handed Inbev's £1.2 million Beck's account (Campaign, 4 August). The network already holds Beck's in the US through its Chicago office and was given M&C Saatchi's UK portion of the business this month.

The pitch, which has already reached the longlist stage, will centre on S&N's market-leading Strongbow brand. It also includes Woodpecker, Bulmer's Traditional Cider and Scrumpy Jack.

S&N's roster agencies, TBWA\London and M&C Saatchi, which handle John Smith's and Foster's respectively, are involved.

Strongbow, which has a 32 per cent market share, just ahead of Blackthorn, is in the middle of a £22 million brand overhaul. It recently launched a premium bottled variant, Strongbow Sirrus, designed to attract new drinkers to the sector. Sirrus is also included in the review.

Strongbow's latest ad campaign uses the strapline "trust your tastebuds" and focuses on the difficulties drinkers face when describing the qualities of the cider. The previous campaign, "whale's tongue", also highlighted the taste of the drink. It showed two men discussing the way Strongbow tastes both bitter and sweet, transporting them from a pub to inside the mouth of a blue whale. It used the line: "It's what your tastebuds would order."

The review does not affect the cider brands' media agency, Starcom Mediavest, which was appointed without a pitch in 2003.

S&N is also rethinking the advertising for John Smith's. TBWA's new campaign will focus more on the brand and will not feature the comedian Peter Kay.

His "no nonsense" campaign has run for the past three years.

S&N embarked upon its largest on-trade consumer campaign to date this summer. It promoted five of its top brands, including Strongbow, to pub-goers in London and the Midlands to help increase sales in new target areas.

No-one at S&N was available to comment as Campaign went to press.