Alokananda Chakraborty

Shaw Wallace Breweries to 'rationalise' agency portfolio

The company is reportedly looking to cut down the number of agency partners from four to two

Shaw Wallace Breweries (SWB), the joint venture between SABMiller subsidiary Mysore Breweries and Shaw Wallace, has called for a pitch presumably to "rationalise its agency portfolio". The agency alignment of all its four brands - Castle Lager, Knock Out, Royal Challenge and Haywards 5000 - is being reviewed currently. The four portfolio agencies have already made presentations before the company brass. The company is reportedly looking to cut down the number of agency partners from four to two.

Confirming the move to agencyfaqs!, Vinod Giri, director, marketing, SWB, says, "Subsequent to the merger of Mysore Breweries and Shaw Wallace Breweries, all aspects of the operations of both the companies have been revisited in order to create integration synergies. This includes key partners such as advertising agencies… It is a natural outcome of any integration."

The SWB brands are currently aligned in the following manner. While O&M handles Castle Lager, Knock Out is managed by Leo Burnett, Saatchi & Saatchi handles Royal Challenge and Haywards is in the custodianship of Lowe. Giri informs, "The company (SWB) has had detailed discussions with all four agencies, though the meetings were not as per any specific brief. It was more to understand their style of operation, people, possible arrangements in Bangalore, work on their current brands and their thoughts on the way forward."

The meetings were held in Bangalore last week. "There are no guiding principles," adds Giri. "Currently, we have zeroed down to two agencies. We have not decided whether we need to have a separate AOR."

To put things in perspective, SWB was given shape in May this year, when SABMiller struck a deal to acquire 50 per cent stake and management control of the brewing business of Shaw Wallace & Co Ltd. SABMiller India routed the acquisition through its subsidiary, Mysore Breweries (MBL), leading to a 50:50 merger with the brewing business of Shaw Wallace. The merged entity, Shaw Wallace Breweries, holds the combined brewing interests of MBL and Shaw Wallace even as the operational management control rest with the former.

The strategic deal placed the joint venture company as a strong second player after the UB Group in the domestic beer market. In terms of marketing spends too Shaw Wallace follows the UB Group as a close No 2. While the exact spends of the company could not be ascertained - as bulk of it is routed through below-the-line communication - what is certain is that SWB's new agency partners would have their task cut out. As Giri points out, "We view agencies as long-term partners rather than vendors and expect them to passionately provide a guiding hand to the brands." © 2003 agencyfaqs!

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