Universal wins £100m media for Brown-Forman

LONDON - Universal McCann has won the £100m global media account for Brown-Forman, the US distillery group behind brands including Jack Daniels and Southern Comfort.

It is understood Universal won the account following a competitive pitch held at Brown-Forman's headquarters in Louisville, Kentucky.

In the UK, the Jack Daniels media account moves into Universal from its sister Interpublic Group of Companies agency, Initiative Media. The Southern Comfort business moves from MediaVest.

This realignment follows a change in Brown-Forman's UK and US marketing and distribution contracts. After 17 years with Guinness UDV, Brown-Forman gave its UK account to Bacardi-Martini. Universal is Bacardi's media agency of record.

The new marketing and distribution arrangement came into effect in August and allowed Brown-Forman to sell its brands direct to the trade using Bacardi's warehousing and logistics channels.

The deal gave Brown-Forman cheaper distribution and full control over the pricing of its brands, while Bacardi benefited from being in a stronger position against Guinness UDV's stranglehold on the UK spirits market.

Last year, Brown-Forman also formed a US distribution partnership with Bacardi called the Gemini Alliance. Gemini Alliance allowed the companies jointly to appoint and manage relationships with brokers and distributors. Both Brown-Forman and Bacardi are independent, family controlled companies keen to grow their share of the $12m US spirits market. Both companies have 8% of the market, giving them joint third place behind Fortune Brands. Diageo is the clear leader in the US with 27% of the market.

Brown-Forman's creative arrangements are not thought to be affected by the review.

No one at Universal was available for comment.

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