Asda hands drinks to Lee after marketing overhaul

Asda has handed its beers, wines and spirits account to Lee Publicity, its food and non-food agency of 12 years, after a four-way pitch.

The incumbent, drinks specialist Westbury Communications, held the brief for eight years.

Asda PR manager Ed Watson said the move heralded a more integrated approach: 'Bringing beers wines and spirits under the same roof as the rest of our consumer PR allows the agency to suggest wines for certain dishes.'

Last month the retailer ditched its 30-year-old 'always low prices' strapline in favour of 'more for you for less'. The move represented a switch in focus towards the integrity and quality of products,  rather than price.

The question of products' origin is particularly important for Asda's drinks lines – the supermarket offers locally sourced ales and – like its rivals – wines from a number of countries.

Asda last month completed a packaging revamp of its own-brand beers – including Gentleman Jack – in a bid to compete with traditional ales such as ShepherdNeame's Bishop's Finger.

Wine specialist agency Dillon Morrall, Emma Wellington PR and Focus PR pitched for the account.

Asda and Westbury parted company last December by mutual agreement. Westbury associate director Sally Bishop said the agency was 'moving into a more lifestyle-led approach to drinks PR, rather than solely pitching to wine writers'.

At the beginning of this year, Westbury won Marks & Spencer's wine account.

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