Lion Nathan sniffs the agency breeze as Steinlager work gets put on Lazy Susan

Lion Nathan has put some project work for Steinlager out to stud and, while lead agency Publicis Mojo is involved in the agency review, losing the business has the potential to be another slap in the face for the incumbent after it lost Waikato Draught and Lion Red last year to Assignment Group and DDB respectively.

Lion’s premium beer marketing manager Todd Gordon couldn’t talk about the project or the agencies involved until next week but said the Mojo would remain as lead agency, the review was part of Lion Nathan’s strategy to use different agencies rather than an issue with the current work and the project for this year was similar in scale to the Pure Futures campaign (presumably, given Steinlager sponsors the All Blacks, it will have something to do a large sporting tournament that will remain unnamed to protect the interests of the official sponsors *ahem, Heineken, ahem*).

So, on to the all important ‘who’s it going to be?’ predictions. Assignment Group and DDB, which has Corona, Stella Artois and Budweiser, should be in with a shot, given they each took a (relatively unloved) slice of the Lion Nathan business last year. And Shine, which has done a stellar job with Macs and the Macs Brewbars and is currently working on a project for Speight’s (largely because former Mojo creative director Steve McKenzie is on the agency’s roster) is also thought to be in the running.

Considering the huge success of Steinlager Pure and, more recently, the impressive Pure Futures campaign (Mojo did TV/OOH/Print, while Shift did the digital), you would think Mojo, which Gordon says has worked with Lion Nathan for over five years, would be confident of retaining the work. But not everything has gone to plan. Mojo’s first two instalments of the Keep it Pure campaign with Harvey Keitel and Willem Dafoe were well-received, but the ill-fated third commercial with the only moderately well-known Vincent Gallo proved problematic, if only because Lion Nathan claimed he wasn’t chosen to be a famous face. As such, the local actor’s union came out and tried to stop him from getting a work visa, claiming the job should have gone to a local.

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As for Speight’s, Gordon says Mojo remains as the lead agency. The Pride of My Castle for Gold Medal Ale and Man Like Natural for Summit were both overseen by Micah Walker, the executive creative director at Mojo in Sydney. And while it seemed as if the local office had been gazumped in favour of Aussie expertise, Gordon says the input of the Australian creative team was the model Mojo had in place following the departure of Auckland ECD Rebecca Carrasco. Recently, Mike Barnwell was chosen to take over the role, so it’s all back to business as usual.

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