Breweries unruffled as shops merge

The merger of ad agency Ammirati & Puris with Lintas Worldwide, a unit of The Interpublic Group of Companies, has all eyes watching the beer accounts of the Canadian agencies involved.While Canadian subsidiaries Ammirati & Puris and MacLaren:Lintas, both of Toronto,...

The merger of ad agency Ammirati & Puris with Lintas Worldwide, a unit of The Interpublic Group of Companies, has all eyes watching the beer accounts of the Canadian agencies involved.

While Canadian subsidiaries Ammirati & Puris and MacLaren:Lintas, both of Toronto, will not be merged, their New York-based parents have been combined as Ammirati & Puris/Lintas.

The merger was a stock-for-stock transaction resulting in a new agency with annual billings of about $1.2 billion.

The reporting structure for the two Canadian agencies has MacLaren:Lintas reporting to Lintas Worldwide, now the parent company of the merged agencies, which is headed by Kenneth Robbins, chairman and chief executive officer.

Ammirati & Puris will report to Martin Puris, president and ceo of Ammirati & Puris/Lintas, New York and vice-chairman of Lintas Worldwide.

Ralph Ammirati is chairman of Ammirati & Puris/Lintas.

In New York, the merger created virtually no client conflicts.

In Canada, the two major players hold business coveted by all agencies – the major breweries.

MacLaren:Lintas has been the long-time agency for Molson Breweries.

Rumors about the stability of the account have been rampant for the past few months after the successful launch of the company’s Red Dog brand by bbdo, and the news that Young & Rubicam is also working on some assignments for Molson.

Freda Colbourne, director of corporate communications for Molson, says:

‘At this point, it’s just business as usual. [The merged company has] said they’re going to make [the Toronto shops] two separate companies. We’re going to assess it and look over the situation. Then, we’ll make any decisions, if there are any to be made.

‘It’s too soon to tell how long the assessment process will take,’ Colbourne says.

‘We have to look at how it’s going to operate, what our needs are, and make sure we’re still in a competitive situation, and see if it’s fine for us,’ she says.

The Canadian advertising industry was surprised when, in January, Ammirati & Puris was awarded the creative and planning assignments for all brands carrying the Labatt name, less than six months after the agency opened its Toronto office.

This spring, the first campaign from the agency was launched.

The work has been criticized by some in the industry who feel it portrays Canadian stereotypes rather than reality

Paul Smith, director public relations/communications for Labatt Breweries of Canada, says the company is happy with the creative, adding, consumer feedback has been positive.

Smith says there are no compelling reasons after the merger to make an agency change.

‘We’ve had some conversation with Ammirati & Puris over the purchase, and, quite frankly, at this point, it’s status quo,’ he says.

‘We’ve received assurance that the businesses in Canada are going to be run separately.

‘Our relationship with Ammirati & Puris is here in the Toronto office. Are they delivering good quality creative? Yes, we like very much what they’re doing for us. We don’t see any compelling reasons to make changes.

‘There are no absolutes. For the time being, we’ve taken their assurances at face value that the businesses are separate, and we’re dealing with a&p here in Toronto.’