Burnett drops Girl for rival

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 24 January, 1996, 12:00am
UPDATED : Wednesday, 24 January, 1996, 12:00am

ADVERTISING company Leo Burnett's China operation has won the account to represent Carlsberg Brewery on the mainland after a five-month review process.

Details of how much the account was worth and the length of the deal were not disclosed.

The development means that Burnett is likely to lose its China and Hong Kong account for rival brew Blue Girl, which it has held for the past two years.

Kendrick Lai, Hong Kong manager for Blue Girl distributors Jebsen, said the Burnett Carlsberg pitch was made without their knowledge and has left the company feeling 'uncomfortable'.

'They tried to pitch the Carlsberg account for the China market. That is what we heard,' Mr Lai said.

It was likely that Burnett would be fired from the account, he said.

Dennis Wong, Leo Burnett's managing director for China, said the Carlsberg win gave the advertising agency a tremendous start for 1996 because it had planned to make a commitment in China.

He said Burnett would resign the Blue Girl account because the agency could not handle both accounts.

Last year was the best in the agency's history as it topped worldwide billings of more than US$5 billion for the first time.

'Carlsberg was looking for a marketing partner with the same vision and a similar commitment with big, original ideas that would build the brand,' Mr Wong said.

He believed the key factors in winning the account included the agency's three full-service operations in China, its founding sponsorship of SRG/Nielson Adex (a television consumer monitoring system) and its 'consumer panels' in six cities across the country.

'The consumer panels gave the agency the edge in providing a deeper and more sensitive insight into Carlsberg's business,' Mr Wong said.

'We talked to 678 individuals aged between 15 and 60 through our consumer panels in Beijing, Shanghai, Guangzhou, Dalian, Wuhan and Chengdu to learn more about their perception of Carlsberg and their attitude towards beer consumption.' Mr Lai said the tendering out of the Blue Girl account was still under consideration. 'We will announce it very soon,' he said, adding that it would not be Leo Burnett.