Molson Coors enlists Ogilvy

DENVER: Molson Coors hired Ogilvy PR as its corporate AOR to focus on reputation management, social responsibility, and issues management.

DENVER: Molson Coors hired Ogilvy PR as its corporate AOR to focus on reputation management, social responsibility, and issues management.

Molson Coors chose Ogilvy mid-May after a two-round RFP process in part because the firm has a global PR presence adequate for the brewer's plans to expand its market outside of its traditional strongholds in the US, UK, and Canada, according to Dan Lewis, Molson Coors global chief public affairs officer. The account is a six-figure base retainer agreement that could increase if it assigns Ogilvy additional work on a project basis, he added.

Lewis cited last October's announcement that the company plans to merge its US operations with those of SABMiller in the US as a catalyst for expansion. Molson and Miller hope to gain approval from the Department of Justice by mid-year, Lewis said.

“Our growth going forward is going to be focused on global markets, both emerging and mature markets, and we needed a partner who could make that trip with us,” he said. “[The joint venture with Miller] will be transformational for us, and that will propel us onto a whole new level of growth capacity.”

Ogilvy began work on the account immediately after the hire, including assisting Molson Coors with donation efforts in China benefitting victims of the recent earthquake. The brewer has a Chinese sales and marketing organization of about 350 people in 40 cities, Lewis noted.

The agency will continue to focus on Molson's corporate social responsibility activities, including water stewardship, responsible drinking, and employee volunteer programs, said Kiersten Zweibaum, MD, Ogilvy global corporate practice.

“Specifically, we launched our first corporate social responsibility report at the end of last year… and now we need to do an even better job of telling our story and communicating with stakeholders,” Lewis said. “[Regarding] issues management, in the alcoholic beverage industry, you need to stay on top of the issues, whether they're regulatory issues, social responsibility issues, or community issues, and I think Ogilvy will be a great help there since all of this is going to play out in a much more global environment than we're used to.”

Molson sent the RFP for the account to more than 10 agencies in mid-April. It narrowed its search to four finalists, according to Lewis, who did not reveal the other finalists.

Ogilvy's office in Denver, where the brewer maintains its US headquarters, helped it win the account, Lewis said.

Molson previously worked with GolinHarris on corporate PR, but it did not pitch for the account due to its lack of a Denver office, Lewis said. GH continues, however, to assist subsidiary Coors Brewing Co. with corporate PR.

“We really felt that we needed a local presence in the Denver market to support our growth strategy, and we still have a very amicable relationship with Golin,” Lewis said.

Zandra Zuno, Golin VP, declined to comment on the news.

One finalist for the account was Linhart PR, according to Paul Raab, SVP and partner. Lewis did not deny that Linhart made the final round.

Molson Coors works with a number of other agencies on various accounts including National PR in Canada and Hogarth in the UK, both for corporate communications, and CarryOn Communications was hired this year as AOR of US brands for Coors.

In addition, both sides of the SABMiller-Molson Coors merger hired Sard Verbinnen and Co. for support last year.

Ogilvy's Zweibaum said the agency expects to work with other firms employed by Molson during its tenure, though there are no plans for the agency to do so at this point.

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