Finweek English Edition - - Advertising & Marketing -

ONE OF THE MOST SUC­CESS­FUL client/agency part­ner­ships in world ad­ver­tis­ing – be­tween Stella Ar­tois beer and Lowe World­wide – has ended af­ter 25 years. The re­la­tion­ship pro­duced some of the best Bri­tish award-winning ad­ver­tis­ing, us­ing quirky hu­mour to con­vey its po­si­tion­ing (un­til last year): “Re­as­sur­ingly ex­pen­sive.”

But the brand has strug­gled over the past two years, los­ing mar­ket share in Bri­tain and be­ing as­so­ci­ated with binge drink­ing. Re­la­tions with the agency wors­ened af­ter Stella’s Bel­gian par­ent com­pany, InBev, ac­quired An­heuser-Busch.

When Lowe was in­vited to par­tic­i­pate in a com­pet­i­tive pitch this week to re­tain the busi­ness, its South African creative chief, Matthew Bull, walked away. The de­ci­sion has also had an im­pact on Ogilvy Cape Town MD Jac­ques Burger, who had just ac­cepted a job with Lowe work­ing on the Stella brand in Lon­don. Burger is now join­ing an­other agency abroad.

“The work has been a roar­ing suc­cess around the world,” Bull says. “But InBev de­cided to put it out to pitch, where they place great faith in re­search. Three years ago we won an IPA ef­fec- tiveness award. Stella is the sec­ond big­gest beer in Bri­tain. But they said our work had been a fail­ure, based on re­search. To me it’s an ex­am­ple of how glob­al­i­sa­tion can harm re­la­tion­ships and brands.”

The SA agency, Lowe Bull, has SA Brew­eries as a client.

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