Labatt serenades winning agency Publicis with bagpipes and beer

The Toronto-based agency won the Blue Canada, Bleu, Alexander Keith's, Lucky Lager and Lakeport businesses under a single account.

When they heard bagpipes playing outside their downtown Toronto offices yesterday, Publicis staff knew their agency had been selected as the new AOR for Labatt Breweries Canada. The agency review, which was called in November, awarded brands Blue, Bleu, Alexander Keith’s, Lucky Lager and Lakeport to Publicis – the last two of which it had previously held. It also won the Blue US business in the same review.

‘We were told the news by bagpipers and Labatt staff armed with beer at about noon today,’ says Publicis CD Andrew Bruce. ‘It was one of those moments that will be imprinted for some time.’

For Labatt, the team at Publicis was the deciding factor that brought the decision down in their favour. ‘We were pretty happy with the passion they showed for the business,’ says Labatt’s vice-president of corporate affairs, Neil Sweeney. ‘Given the breadth of the brands, they needed to be able to manage our business in English Canada, Quebec and the US, and they fit the bill very well. We’re optimistic we’ll be able to drive great results from the new arrangement, and we’re really looking forward to it.’

The other agencies on the final short list were Capital C and BBDO, both Toronto-based, as is Grip, which holds the Stella Artois, Budweiser and Bud Light accounts. M2 Universal is Labatt’s media buying agency, while planning is handled in-house.