Diageo global PR brief up for grabs after team restructure

Cohn & Wolfe on alert as drinks giant contacts agencies to pitch for revamped PR brief.

Thirsty work: Diageo drinks brands
Thirsty work: Diageo drinks brands

Drinks giant Diageo is looking to overhaul its global corporate PR arrangements as it plans to save millions of pounds over the next year.

The drinks firm currently retains Cohn & Wolfe for corporate PR, but the agency has been placed on alert as Diageo reviews its requirements amid tough economic conditions.

A handful of agencies were contacted by the company this week, PRWeek understands. The successful agency will support the seven-strong global PR team, with particular focus on Great Britain and Ireland.

Diageo director of comms Stephen Doherty said he had kicked off the agency hunt because a restructure in the global PR team had radically altered the team's agency requirements. He said: 'With our changed requirements, testing the market is the appropriate thing to do.'

Diageo is the world's largest alcoholic drinks company. Key brands include Guinness and Smirnoff. It announced a four per cent rise in organic operating profit during its annual results last week, but the firm is implementing a restructuring drive to save £120m in costs over the next year. This includes shutting its central London headquarters. The company is also facing a backlash against 900 proposed job cuts in Scotland, as the result of the planned closure of a distillery in Glasgow and a bottle plant in Kilmarnock.

However, Doherty said the chosen agency would not work on the Scottish story, which is being managed in-house.

PRWeek understands Blue Rubicon, Ketchum and the six-and-a-half-year incumbent Cohn & Wolfe were among those contacted by Diageo with a view to pitching for the revised corporate PR business. Diageo also retains Brunswick for financial PR support and Hanover for public affairs.


Diageo was formed in 1997, following the merger of GrandMet and Guinness. It has its HQ in London and operates in 180 markets.

Brands include Guinness, Smirnoff, Gordon's, Baileys, Johnnie Walker, Blossom Hill and Dom Perignon.

The word Diageo comes from the Latin for day (dia) and the Greek for world (geo). According to its website: 'We take this to mean every day, everywhere, people celebrate with our brands.'

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