PHD wins $30m CUB media account in global review

Arvind Hickman
By Arvind Hickman | 3 October 2017

PHD has won the media account of Carlton United Breweries in a global media pitch, ending a 17-year partnership with MediaCom. 

In this market, there were four media agencies in the running for the account in the final stages, including PHD, Starcom, Vizeum and MediaCom.

The Australian arm of global brewer AB InBev includes media planning and buying work of iconic brands, such as Carlton Draught, Victoria Bitter, Cascade, Pure Blonde, Yak ales as well local distribution rights for Stella Artois, Peroni and Irish ciders Magners and Bulmers, among others.

CUB’s annual media spend is thought to be between $25 million and $30 million per annum and incudes a large component of sponsorship revenue. Earlier this year, CUB's long-term sponsorship of the cricket was picked up by Lion.

The beer giant is a prestigious client that has been responsible for some of the most iconic ads on Australian television, including the Carlton Draught Big Beer and several VB spots starring cricket stars. Recently it returned with another cracking Carlton Draught spot after suffering a 'big ad hangover' for several years.

“We have now completed the review of our media planning and buying capabilities globally to reduce complexity and structure our approach to marketing into one consistent operating model," a company spokesperson says. "We will be transitioning media agencies from MediaCom to PHD.

“Our decision was based on strategic and commercial criteria. We want to thank MediaCom for their work and partnership over the past 17 years. During this time we have worked together on a number of award-winning campaigns.

“We are excited to be working with PHD in Asia-Pacific South, given their capabilities and passion for our business and our brands. As we evolve our media buying strategy and implement a more data driven approach, PHD is the best strategic partner to help us deliver this.

“To avoid disruption we will be working on this transition through the remainder of the year with the new agency on board by Jan 1, 2018.”

A massive win

It is another big win PHD after retaining PepsiCo earlier this year and picking up major accounts VW, GSK and Unilever in the past few years. In the past couple of years, PHD has risen five places up RECMA media rankings to be among Australia's top eight agencies.

“This is incredible news for us,' PHD chief executive Mark Coad says. "Growing up in the industry in Melbourne, this is, and always has been the client to work with. To have the chance to do that, and continue to grow our Melbourne office is a game changer for us. We can’t wait to make a valued contribution to their business."

AdNews understands MediaCom parted ways with Carlton United Breweries at the eleventh hour after failing to agree on a commercial arrangement that was viable for both parties.

A staff email leaked to AdNews said the agency had declined to continue its relationship on the basis of cost.

“Two things happen when we lose money on a client; it inhibits our ability to compensate and reward you for what you do and means that we have to make up the loss on that client with the fees we make from other clients,” the email stated.

“Because of this, [the leadership team has] decided to decline their offer and resign the business. Sometimes saying ‘no’ is hard, but in this instance, we should hold our heads high and move on. I feel good because we’ve done the right thing for us and our clients.”

In March, the world’s largest beer company called a review of media agency partnerships across the world, with WPP, Omnicom, Publicis Groupe and Dentsu Aegies Network agencies in the running.

The review followed AB InBev's acquisition of CUB’s previous parent company, SABMiller, in an AU$142 billion deal to combined the world’s two largest beer groups.

AB InBev is renowned for reviewing costs and driving a hard bargain across its supply chain whenever it acquires a new business.

Globally, Vizeum has been the big winner, picking up the business in the US, Canada, Europe and Africa. MediaCom picked up much of Latin America, incluiding Mexico, Honduras, El Salvador, Argentina, Bolivia, Uruguay and several Caribbean countries.

Publicis Groupe's Starcom will oversee China, South Korea, Japan, Colombia, Peru and Ecuador. PHD won the business in Vietnam, India and Austalia.

MediaCom's Melbourne office shouldn't change too much as a result of the CUB loss. It recently picked up the Victorian Government media account and is on the hunt for about 20 staff to make up the client team.

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