17 Muswell Rd South, Block A, Wedgefield Office Park, Bryanston, 2021, Gauteng, South Africa
+27 11 463 6043

Distell consolidates, appoints bespoke WPP agency

By Herman Manson | February 06, 2019.

Distell has consolidated its account, awarding it to a new WPP bespoke agency, Team Liquid, which is led by Paul Jackson and Fran Luckin (both from Grey South Africa). Previously, the company worked with with as many as 28 large agencies, plus a host of smaller ones.

The seven big brands moving to Team Liquid are Savanna, Hunter’s, Amarula, Viceroy, Bain’s, Scottish Leader and Hunter’s Edge*. WPP will also service a number of Distell-owned local brands in Kenya. Contractual details are still being finalised.

Agency model

According to Andre Beyers, the Distell Africa marketing director who led the project alongside pitch consultant Yardstick, while Distell still generates the bulk of its revenue locally, its aim is to grow globally, and especially elsewhere in Africa. It had been interrogating its agency model and the large number of agencies working across its brands and portfolios. The previous model was found to be no longer efficient, and didn’t offer the mass/scale the company requires on expenditure. Agencies have themselves been transforming and integrating. Distell, in short, was behind the curve, and the account consolidation aims to propel the business ahead once more.

Beyers says Distell has been spending between 50-100% more on agencies than it should have, so the consolidation will result in significant cost-savings. Both Richard Rushton, Distell CEO, and Donovan Hegland, Distell director: global marketing, were involved in the process.

WPP competed with Publicis Groupe for the account in what was, says Beyers, a close race. WPP moves Distell closer to the main market (especially in South Africa’s northern provinces), access to a global talent pool and established relationships with social media companies. The account move fits into Distell’s digital transformation strategy, he adds, which he believes will bring the brands closer to consumers.

Two tranches

The pitch took place in two tranches, one holding the group’s seven biggest brands, for which WPP is now the preferred supplier. The remaining brands are all held in the second tranch, but no decision has yet been made on how or even if to proceed. Current agency relationships remain in place here.

* Correction 2019/02/06: Hunter’s Edge and not Esprit as previously reported.