Burnett resigns 15m Dewar’s

Leo Burnett has resigned the 15m worldwide Dewar’s whisky account as a result of Diageo selling the brand to Bacardi.

Diageo was forced to sell both Dewar’s and its Bombay Sapphire Gin brand by competition authorities. It struck a deal to sell the brands to Bacardi for 1.15bn earlier this year. The Federal Trade Commission in the US gave the go-ahead for the sale last week.

Leo Burnett has handled Dewar’s, which was owned by Guinness’s spirits arm United Distillers, for the past 25 years. The account was run from London, though the brand’s main markets are the US – where it is one of the top-selling whiskies – Greece and Latin America.

Since Leo Burnett handles Diageo spirits brands Johnnie Walker whisky and Gordon’s Gin on an exclusive basis, it cannot work for Bacardi. It is expected that Bacardi will call a pitch for the brand, though this will probably be handled from the US. Bacardi’s US office says Bombay Sapphire Gin is expected to maintain its current agency arrangements. The brand’s 1m account has been handled for IDV by Banks Hoggins O’Shea for the past five years. Bacardi has already appointed Ammirati Puris Lintas, New York, to handle the media buying for the brands.

Marketing budgets for both brands are expected to grow under Bacardi.

Bacardi says it will hire the existing marketing teams, including marketing directors and brand managers, for both brands. It claims these will not change “in the foreseeable future”.

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