Campari seals UK venture with Bowmore distiller

Scotch whisky company Morrison Bowmore and Italy’s Campari Group are launching a joint venture company to handle marketing, sales and distribution of their brands in the UK.

The move will spark a review of advertising and below-the-line agency arrangements for Campari and Cinzano, as well as Skyy premium vodka.

Carat handles media for Cinzano, while Grey Worldwide and John Ayling & Associates respectively handle creative and media buying for Campari.

Morrison Bowmore sales and marketing director Steve Webb will become managing director of the joint venture. He says: “We will be reviewing all marketing services for the Campari portfolio – all contracts have been terminated. We would prefer to reappoint the current agencies, but they will have to prove themselves.”

Webb adds that the UK marketing budget for the brands involved will be increased by two-fifths, to about &£2m.

The as-yet unnamed joint venture, which is to be based in Stirling, will handle the Bowmore and Auchentoshan whisky brands, Midori melon liqueur, Skyy, Campari and Cinzano. Morrison Bowmore, which is owned by Japanese drinks giant Suntory, already distributes Cinzano and Skyy, while Suntory distributes Campari’s brands in Japan.

UK drinks distributor First Drinks Brands loses the Campari distribution contract, a further blow to the company, which already has problems over Stolichnaya vodka – supplies of which have been disrupted due to a dispute between the Russian ministry of agriculture and Russian company Soyuzplodimport over who actually owns the brand (first revealed in MW March 7). Enzo Casati, regional director of Campari Group, says: “The opportunity to take greater control of our distribution was too good to miss.”

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