In a David-vs.-Goliath coup that is sure to raise eyebrows (and possibly blood pressure) on Madison Avenue, StrawberryFrog beat out Interpublic Group of Cos.' McCann-Erickson, London to bag Heineken's business, signaling the growing power of small "boutique" shops to wrest high-profile advertisers away from older, established agency brands. Nielsen Monitor-Plus pegs Heineken's U.S. ad spending at $75 million.
"This really is just another example of how the industry is radically changing," Scott Goodson, co-founder and CEO of StrawberryFrog, told MediaDailyNews, asserting a trend toward "smaller, much more nimble" ad agencies. Goodson continued: "StrawberryFrog getting Heineken--one of the most iconic brands in the world--just shows how much the world is changing."
Heineken executives opened bidding for the creative portion of the account after declining profit margins led to calls for a new marketing direction. In June, Heineken parted ways with industry veteran Wieden + Kennedy, Amsterdam, before retaining StrawberryFrog to chart its new course. The shop already works on Heineken's sponsorship of UEFA Cup soccer.
Fresh on the heels of its Old Navy "Back to School" campaign win, StrawberryFrog's latest success--and the troubles of established industry competitors--underscore the growing threat posed to Madison Avenue's heavy hitters by a new breed of small, creative, and remarkably flexible firms. As StrawberryFrog and other small shops like Mother, Naked, and thehappycorp win new business, industry watchers warn of yet another ad industry shakeup.
The implications for media buying and planning are not as clear, although creative shops are increasingly involved in media strategy and vice versa. Strawberry's Goodson declined to predict any specific changes in Heineken's media buying habits, but hinted at the breadth of StrawberryFrog's ambitions: "As an agency, we always think about total engagement to create brand movement--basically a merger of advertising and entertainment content, online, offline, everything."
Goodson added: "You should expect to find new forms of media being used--in addition, of course, to a solid creative strategy. We want to reignite a cultural movement for Heineken globally."