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Lewis Lazare follows Chicago media and marketing news

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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.



About the blogger

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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