BBH fishes VAT 69

By Neha Kalra , afaqs!, New Delhi | In Advertising | July 30, 2009
The agency has won the creative duties for the Scotch whisky brand following a multi-agency pitch

Reliable sources confirm that Bartle Bogle Hegarty (BBH) India has been brought on board as the creative agency for Diageo's locally bottled Scotch whisky brand, VAT 69. The agency has won the business following a multi-agency pitch involving other agencies such as McCann Erickson and Saatchi & Saatchi.

Senior officials from Diageo and BBH were not available for comment at the time of filing this report.

It is believed that Diageo is looking at an ad spend of Rs 5-6 crore for the brand. The brief to agencies was about re-launching the communication for the brand. Co-incidentally, the brand also completes 125 years of its existence in the country this year.

Publicis Ambience is the incumbent on the brand and handles the Scotch whisky portfolio, including VAT 69 and two other brands, Haig and Black & White, from the Diageo stable. With VAT 69 moving to BBH, the other two brands will continue to be handled by Publicis Ambience. The agency has handled the portfolio for almost two years.

Apart from Publicis Ambience, Diageo also has Leo Burnett, JWT and Creativeland Asia on its roster. Leo Burnett handles Johnnie Walker - the agency has handled the whisky brand for quite some time. JWT handles the vodka brand, Smirnoff. Creativeland Asia was entrusted with the wine portfolio in 2007.

Sources reveal that Diageo takes up marketing for one brand each year. For instance, Grey was handling Haig before it moved to Publicis Ambience - at that time, the agency did some work for the brand. After its shift to Publicis Ambience, the brand has seen almost no marketing activity. The focus of the company subsequently shifted to Black & White. The source claims that going by past records, VAT 69 will see a spurt of marketing attention now.

The exact media mix planned for the brand could not be ascertained. However, considering the target group, digital, direct marketing and outdoor could be safe bets taken up by the company.

VAT 69 competes with fellow brands from the Diageo umbrella and other brands outside the company. It competes with Haig, Black & White and Johnnie Walker (from the Diageo stable) and other brands such as Chivas Regal, Teachers Highland Cream and 100 Pipers.

As per reports, VAT 69 records sales of 150K cases per annum. The Diageo group also markets brands such as Captain Morgan rum, Shark Tooth vodka and Baileys, its cream liqueur brand for women, in India.

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