» LOWE POINT FOR STELLA ARTOIS
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.