Heineken USA taps Edelman for Strongbow cider

WHITE PLAINS, NY: Heineken USA, which has been juggling its agency roster for several months, has selected Edelman as AOR for its Strongbow brand, further expanding its work with the firm.

WHITE PLAINS, NY: Heineken USA, which has been juggling its agency roster for several months, has selected Edelman as AOR for its Strongbow brand, further expanding its work with the firm. 

The company, which added Strongbow to its portfolio this month, tapped Edelman for consumer and corporate PR work for the for the cider brand after giving the agency the PR accounts for a number of other brands last year.

Edelman was named corporate communications AOR for Heineken USA and consumer AOR for Dos Equis last July, and the company expanded the agency's work to include the flagship Heineken and Heineken Light brands, as well as Amstel Light, in December.

Edelman has a team of four staffers working on the Strongbow account.

MSLGroup previously served as AOR for Heineken USA, its flagship brand, and Amstel Light, while Hill+Knowlton Strategies was AOR for Dos Equis.

“We see [PR] as creative fuel plus flawless execution, and we've been very deliberate in the approach to ensuring that for all the scopes we've moved to Edelman, [it has] dedicated teams to align to the unique needs and spirits of each brand but also with a foundation of continuity that we didn't have before,” said Stacey Tank, SVP of corporate relations for Heineken USA.

She added that Strongbow is a focus for this year because cider is a booming product in the category. She declined to specify the account's budget.

Hard cider sales volume in the US increased 56% from the beginning of last year to July, according to Nielsen. Euromonitor International reported that while cider makes up 0.5% of beer sales volume in the US, it saw 23% growth in sales from 2010 to 2011.

“One of the exciting things about Strongbow is that it brings to our upscale portfolio a whole new flavor profile, unlike beer, and it skews 50-50 men and women, so we see it as a huge growth engine for the business,” explained Tank.

PR will play a bigger role in the business this year because Heineken has many stories to tell and wants to engage more with consumers, she added.

Last year, Tank hired four corporate relations team members with skills specializing in public affairs, corporate relations, and sustainability.

Heineken USA's corporate communications division works on PR, employee engagement, commercial communications with customers, executive communications, the consumer-relations call center, alcohol policy and sustainability, and state and federal lobbying, said Tank.

Both she and CMO Lesya Lysyj report to Heineken USA CEO Dolf van den Brink. Tank added that marketing and communications work together as if they are one team.

In addition to Edelman, Heineken appointed Zambezi as advertising AOR for Strongbow Cider, while Wieden+Kennedy New York, which already manages general market advertising and social media for Heineken, will handle campaigns targeting Hispanic consumers for Heineken and Heineken Light.

Formula PR works on Heineken's Newcastle Brown Ale brand, while sister agency Formulatin, which specializes in Hispanic consumer outreach, manages Tecate and Indio.

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