A spokesman for Princes Soft Drinks, which holds the marketing franchise for Virgin Cola, said four ‘one-stop’ agencies that would handle both PR and advertising had been shortlisted for the contract, with a decision as to which to hire ‘likely’ within one month.
The spokesman said the pitch had been called as it was ‘good to keep things fresh’ and ‘see what’s around’ for a fresh promotional drive next year.
There is not thought to be a retained incumbent PR agency on the Virgin Cola brand, although agencies such as Harrison Cowley have handled PR for the range on a project basis in the past year.
Neither HC, whose Manchester office promoted a summer campaign titled ‘Get a Virgin Cola Life’, nor Field McNally Leathes, which also worked for Virgin Cola in the past year, are understood to be involved in the pitch.
The Virgin drinks range comprises a diet and regular cola drink, plus variants such as vanilla cola and the Virgin Sours range, for which Princes has promised a ‘major drive’ in 2004.
The Virgin Sours range launched two weeks ago, with the Princes spokesman describing the launch as being backed solely by ‘press advertising’.
Princes has pledged ‘extensive’ above and below-the-line marketing activity for Virgin Cola during 2004.
Princes signed a partnership deal with Virgin Drinks in February to manage its sales distribution, marketing and manufacturing in the UK.
Princes marketing director Dave Patmore and marketing manager Sarah Hemming are overseeing the pitch.
Sir Richard Branson launched Virgin Cola in the late-1990s in a bid to challenge the market domination of Coca-Cola and Pepsi.