Pilsner Urquell seeks shop for direct work

LONDON - SABMiller is planning a direct push to back its Pilsner Urquell brand and has invited agencies to pitch for the business.

The winning agency will be awarded a specific project to break in the New Year, although more work is likely to follow throughout 2007.

Last summer, SABMiller set up a UK subsidiary, Miller Brands UK, allocating £30m to raise its brands' profile.

The investment has paid off for beer brand Peroni, which posted a 28% rise in sales in the six months to September.

SABMiller is now turning its attentions to the Pilsner Urquell brand. It has set aside a £2m marketing budget to support the brand in the UK over the next 18 months. Most of the £2m budget will be spent on direct marketing.

A spokesman said the brand has been repositioned as a beer for the connoisseur over the past year.

In September, SABMiller appointed Chris Ritchie as European marketing director. Ritchie spent a decade at Procter & Gamble, where he was global marketing director for the Olay brand.

Pilsner Urquell has been brewed in Plzen in the Czech Republic since 1842. SABMiller's other premium beers are Nastro Azurro and Miller Genuine Draft.

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