Bacardi Retains KSL, Independent Remains Grey Goose Media Shop

In a surprise development sure to make Bacardi incumbent media shop Universal McCann feel a little uneasy, the spirits marketer Tuesday assigned its newest brand to a dark horse media agency. And while that agency--KSL Media--was the incumbent for that brand, Grey Goose vodka, the fact that Barcardi retained KSL following its acquisition of Grey Goose, speaks volumes in an era in which consolidation has become the norm.

Bacardi purchased Grey Goose in July for $2 billion, and conducted a brief internal review of its $15 million media services account two weeks ago, opting to keep the business with KSL over Universal. The account includes media strategy, planning, and buying for print, TV, online, and alternative media, as well as so-called "special media partnership development."

It was finally the last element of that assignment that played so heavily in Bacardi's decision to keep KSL. The agency has specialized in developing the kind of branded content relationships that are all the rage on Madison Avenue these days, including "The Grey Goose 19th Hole," a half-hour talk show airing on The Golf Channel. The agency has developed a similar franchise with Conde Nast Publications dubbed "Taste Makers," featuring editorial content on vodka drinks, which is scheduled to break soon.



That KSL would win such an assignment on the basis of strategy and creative media executions might come as a surprise to some outsiders, given the agency's reputation as one of the last true independent media buying services, but the win says as much about the direction KSL is moving in as it does about the media services business overall.

"Grey Goose is a pioneering brand that needs an entrepreneurial approach to advertising and media," stated Monsell Darville, group marketing director at Bacardi, calling KSL an "integral part" of the vodka brand's success. The assignment is the third in a row for KSL, which was tapped by Fuse Networks in June and Callaway Golf only a few weeks ago.

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