THE launch of San Miguel's Blue Ice premium beer and the simultaneous relaunch of the company's traditional pilsner are being handled by two different agencies because ''there's a limit to the creativity in any one agency'', according to San Miguel managing director Stuart McGregor. ''With a new, segmented product alongside the original beer, we felt we would achieve the creative flair, the pizazz, better by segmenting the advertising agencies, too,'' he said. The company took 18 months to bring the new beer to market, having first identified the taste profile most desired by the 18-to 35-year-old target market. Brewmaster Graeme Sheard needed only three attempts to come up with the beer which matched the profile and was successfully tested. San Miguel's move into the premium beer market comes despite a recovery in sales of its regular pilsner beer, and is a response to the increasing popularity of imported premium beers with Hong Kong's affluent and youthful generation. J. Walter Thompson (JWT) is handling the pilsner re-launch, and Grey Advertising handled the account for the new ice-filtered beer. Both agencies were appointed two months ago, and have hurried to get the new television commercials on air for the crucial mid-summer consumption peak. ''You can miss the bus by a week, a day, an hour or a second - but if you miss it, it doesn't matter by how much,'' Mr McGregor said. Tan Shen Guan, executive creative director at JWT, said the pilsner's image ''needed to be moved up a few notches''. ''We are aiming to bring a bit of sexiness to San Mig. There was no aspirational content in the earlier advertising because this has traditionally been a beer drunk by blue-collar workers. ''We needed to remind people of the quality of the beer first, because frankly this has been forgotten for quite a while,'' Mr Tan added. JWT had produced three television commercials in a little over a month, filming mostly at weekends and at night. First came teaser ads asking the question: if a woman is made of water, what is a man made of? These emerged from the old Chinese saying that a woman is made of water because she cries, but those same tears are also her strength. The rhetorical question is answered in the full-length television commercial with numerous fire-related images of man. ''We show man as heroic, street smart and sexy, but also tender,'' Mr Tan said. Sandy Higgins, creative director at Grey, said the Blue Ice commercial was made in Sydney, Australia, because of the pressure of time. ''The exploding ice block, using real detonators, required special expertise, and in the time available we just couldn't get hold of any of the top Hong Kong-based directors,'' she said. The lighting and the angles, together with the subliminal cutaways to icebergs and a mock-up of a frozen bottling plant, helped create a real freshness in the advertisement, she added. ''We couldn't use the real San Miguel brewery here, because the ice filtration of Blue Ice really does freeze up all the pipes and tanks. It would have frozen cameras and film too,'' Ms Higgins said. It was a rare opportunity to start from scratch with a new product, she said. ''It was a real brand-building exercise. We needed a strong idea, a strong image that we could develop over time, so the ice block together with the slogan 'break the ice' was chosen.'' Marketing of Blue Ice would differentiate it from the pilsner, San Miguel marketing director Deoji Villadolid said. The age profile of the target market was 18 to 35 years, compared with that of the pilsner which was ''25 to forever'', he said. Blue Ice would be marketed as a premium beer, and priced at $2 or $3 more per bottle in the supermarket. The smooth, easy drinking characteristics of the beer would be linked to the more discerning drinker of the 1990s, he added. The bottle design - with a twist-off top - was developed for Blue Ice and is owned by San Miguel. Labelling and packaging would also emphasise the distinctions, he added.