Lowe Lintas set to loosen McCann’s grip on Stella

Lowe Lintas may be poised to break McCann-Erickson’s grip on the Stella Artois global advertising account – which it has held for 25 years – after owner Interbrew admitted it is testing Lowe’s “Reassuringly expensive” campaign in other markets.

McCann handles the Stella account in all countries except the UK, where Lowe has held the business since 1981, and in Interbrew’s domestic market, where it is run by Belgian agency Duval & Guillaume. Six months ago, McCann London took control of the global business from its US operation.

An Interbrew spokesman says: “We are testing the Lowe ads in a number of markets to see if they work better than the existing commercials.” However, he declines to give any further details.

He adds: “It is not simply a case of transferring them because the ‘Reassuringly expensive’ theme may not necessarily be comprehensible elsewhere.”

Agency sources doubt whether the Lowe ads would work on the continent, as Stella is not regarded as a premium brand. But they believe it could be used to launch the brand in new markets. Interbrew is understood to have chosen the Lowe work to launch the brand in New Zealand.

Lowe has a strong association with the brand in the UK. It has sponsored the pre-Wimbledon Stella Artois tennis championships at Queen’s Club, set up by agency founder Frank Lowe, since the Eighties.

No one was available for comment from Lowe or McCann as Marketing Week went to press.

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