Chicago Sun-Times
Lewis Lazare follows Chicago media and marketing news

Recently in Crown Imports Category

CL_TV_Moonlight_Still_Image.jpgChicago-based Crown Imports has launched a new national campaign for Corona Light from La Comunidad in Miami, Fla. To distinguish the new campaign from the quieter work for sibling Corona Extra, the new commercial called "Moonlight" has lots of bodies noisily dancing on a beach as the sun sets.

Once darkness as fallen and the music has stopped, the seemingly dejected dancers get the bright idea to rush to the other side of the beach and watch the moon rise as the party continues. It's a clever touch, but there's still a bit too much fairly prosaic footage of young people dancing around. There needs to be more surprise built in to the way the spot plays out to give the execution a little more snap.

Crown marketing honcho Jim Sabia says the new Corona Light campaign takes the iconic vacation-in-a-bottle advertising thematic that has served Corona Extra so well for so long and "simply energizes and contemporizes it." There is indeed more energy in this Corona Light spot, but it needs to be served up with a couple more unexpected twists.

Victoria General Market Poster.jpgChicago-based Crown Imports will debut Victoria beer in Chicago next week -- the launch city for the Mexican brew's United States rollout. Described as "one of Mexico's best-kept secrets," Victoria will target both Hispanic and general market beer drinkers. Victoria, a Vienna-style lager with a copper color, has been produced in Mexico since 1865, making it the country's oldest and most traditional beer brand. Until its rollout next week in Chicago, Victoria was only available in Mexico.

Chicago was a natural choice for Victoria's U.S. introduction, according to Crown Imports prez Bill Hackett, because the city has strong ties to Mexico and a well-established beer culture. Chicago also has one of the country's largest Hispanic populations, many of whom would be familiar with the brand from their home country. The Chicago launch will be supported via a major advertising push with work from Upshot/Chicago and La Comunidad/Miami in both English and Spanish. Facebook users who become a fan of Victoria will find information about tasting events and where to buy the beer via a "Find Victoria" mobile App.

SPG 2010 Poster 1.jpgKatarina Van Derham has made history. She is the first woman to have been named St. Pauli Girl spokesmodel for two consecutive years. Yes, the 2009 St. Pauli icon will serve in the same role for 2010. To celebrate the Slovakian native's second tour of duty, St. Pauli Girl has unveiled two new posters featuring Van Derham. The public is invited to vote for their favorite of the two at www.stpauligirl.com, and the winning poster will become the brew's official poster for 2010.

Selecting a spokesmodel is a decades-long tradition for St. Pauli Girl, the No. 2 German lager in the United States. The St. Pauli Girl poster was first introduced in 1982, and more than 2.5 million posters have been downloaded or printed since then. Van Derham begins her 2010 media tour in Los Angeles today. Chicago-based Crown Imports is the exclusive importer of St. Pauli Girl in the U.S.

Crown Beer Portfolio.JPGChicago-based Crown Imports has awarded Horizon Media all media planning and buying for the company's entire portfolio of beer brands, including Corona Extra and Modelo Especial. The business, which exclude out-of-home media, will be managed out of Horizon's Los Angeles office. "We look forward to leveraging Horizon's impressive media planning and buying experience to maximize the delivery of our brand messages to our targeted consumers across a wide variety of platforms," said Jim Sabia, executive vice-president of marketing for Crown Imports. Horizon will begin working with Crown this month to plan and execute media buying efforts for the 2010 calendar year.

To leverage its beer portfolio, including Corona Extra and Modelo Especial, Chicago-based Crown Imports has hired Upshot/Chicago to develop consumer and retail promotional campaigns. "Our portfolio has enjoyed great brand advertising, and we want to maximize our efforts at retail to fully engage and connect with all beer consumers," said Jim Sabia, executive vice president of marketing for Crown. Upshot will begin working with Crown this year, and their first work will appear at retail in the summer of 2010.

Is Cramer-Krasselt going international soon? Apparently not, according to a spokeswoman for the agency, which has its principal office here in Chicago. But that oft-rumored foreign expansion still will be one of the topics expected to be touched on in an article on Cramer-Krasselt and its leader Peter Krivkovich in next Monday's edition of Crain's Chicago Business. Whatever else may be said about him, Krivkovich undoubtedly is one of the city's most aggressive ad agency executives, though circumstances -- like account defections -- often have prevented him from growing his agency as fast as he might have liked.

Cramer-Krasselt recently suffered a big setback in its Chicago office when Crown Imports took the Corona Light business out of the agency and initially awarded it to Publicis/New York. But that move backfired when it was revealed Publicis was in talks with Anheuser-Busch InBev about working with that competing brewing giant. Aside from the Corona account issues, C-K also is currently searching for a executive creative director in its Chicago office.

No matter the setbacks though, Krivkovich always has seemed to be focused on growth, and apparently, he fully intends to keep foreign expansion on the table as an option.

It's not been a great few weeks for Cramer-Krasselt/Chicago and its hold on various facets of the Corona and Corona Light business. First came word that Corona importer Crown Imports was moving the Corona Light ad account to Publicis/New York -- a step that, at the very least, suggests C-K's grip all on all things Corona no longer is as solid as it once was.

Now, Crown says it intends to relieve C-K of media buying duties for the flagship Corona Extra, Corona Light and Modelo Especial brands. C-K had been handling media buys for the Corona brands since 1993. A Crown spokesman said the importer wants to find a single media buying agency to handle media chores for all the aforementioned beer brands, as well as the Pacifico brand, for which Creature in Seattle currently does both creative and media buys.

The plan is for Crown to select the new media buying firm by year's end and transition all media buying to that agency early in 2010. That means that Cramer-Krasselt will be left with a lot less of everything related to Corona -- including income -- in about another six months. It's not the best of situations, to say the least. C-K and its aggressive CEO Peter Krivkovich will have to start beating the bushes just a little harder to find some new business to make up for what it will be losing with all the Corona changes.

Of course, it might help if C-K managed to find a new creative leader for the Chicago shop sooner rather than later. We've always been told that clients -- potential and existing -- feel more comfortable when they know who will be overseeing the creative output at agencies where they are investing a lot of marketing money.

Is the beer stein half full or half empty? Certainly the folks at Cramer-Krasselt/Chicago want --in the worst way -- to believe it's still half full. But the fact remains the agency, which has worked on the Corona business since 1993, has lost a bit of its grip on the business.

Chicago-based Crown Imports, which distributes Corona Extra and Corona Light in the United States, said Thursday it is giving the Corona Light ad business to Publicis/New York on a project basis -- at least at first. Crown Import sources said the project could evolve into an agency of record relationship at some point.

Light brews, of course, have been the most aggressively marketed beer products in recent years, which suggests Publicis may be getting the best part of the Corona account with which to work. And what of that ad work that will come from Publicis for Corona Light? Sources say it isn't clear yet whether Publicis will try for something that resembles the low-key touch C-K has made famous in its advertising for Corona and Corona Light over a number of years. But it's likely, as one source put it, that Publicis will come up with a campaign "somewhere down the beach," which is another way of saying Publicis will offer up creative that won't be easily confused with the work C-K did on the business.

For now, C-K appears to be content with what it's been left with, but there has to be a bit of uneasiness within the agency ranks now that Crown Imports has made this move toward Publicis. Time will surely tell us whether that beer stein we previously mentioned is now indeed half full or half empty at Cramer-Krasselt.

Jim Sabia.jpgIs Jim Sabia destined to ditch the familiar, low-key advertising that has become synonymous with Corona beer in this country? Today, Chicago-based Crown, which distributes Corona beer in the United States, said Sabia is coming on board as Crown's new executive vice-president of marketing. Sabia previously led marketing efforts at Constellation Spirits, where he worked on campaigns for Effen vodka, Black Velvet Canadian Whiskey and other brands.

But previous to his two-year stint with Constellation, Sabia was vice-president of marketing at MolsonCoors and was involved in United States marketing efforts for Coors Light and Coors Banquet brands. While at Coors, Sabia no doubt learned the value of pounding home key brand selling points in advertising. Coors harps incessantly on its so-called "cold refreshment" attribute. Many observers believe that approach to advertising has helped Coors hold its own in the intensely competitive beer category.

Though it remains the top imported beer in America, Corona's sales figures have dropped the past couple of years. That has prompted some concern that Crown might have to make changes in the way the Mexican beer is marketed. If that proves to be the case, it will no doubt be a shock to the system of many who work on the Corona account at Cramer-Krasselt/Chicago, an agency that has done a nice job of sustaining Corona's quiet, beach-themed style of advertising over the course of many years.

Whenever a client decides to make a change in advertising campaigns, the agency entrusted with finding a new approach always has to worry whether the new campaign will get the job done. C-K has been used to doing a certain type of ads for Corona for a very long time, so the challenge could be even greater, if Sabia decides he wants to shake up things.

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Lewis Lazare has written the Media Mix column for the Chicago Sun-Times for the past seven and a half years.

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This page is an archive of recent entries in the Crown Imports category.

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