Diageo TV Deal Gives Bronx Cheer to Big Four Networks

14 May 2002

“National reach at network pricing” is the stated aim of Diageo Guinness UDV North America – the US arm of the planet’s largest purveyor of hard liquor.

London-headquartered Diageo is more than somewhat miffed by the recent decision of NBC to renege on its agreement to carry the company’s TV ads. But having experienced the sharp end of vigorous lobbying by US anti-liquor groups, NBC opted for the quiet life and pulled out of the compact. The other main networks also maintained their ‘no spirits ads’ hardline.

Reversing the old adage, Diageo’s executive vp of marketing and external affairs Guy Smith decided that if he couldn’t join ’em, he’d beat ’em and, in partnership with New York media buying shop MediaCom, set-up an unwired national TV ‘network’ of his own.

Smith claims that the amalgam of local and national broadcast and cable stations and networks – all eager to huckster the hard stuff – will give Diageo reach into 86% of US homes. The company says it will plough around $1 billion (€1.097bn; £0.686bn) over the next five years into its D-I-Y network to hype brands such as Captain Morgan’s rum, Tanqueray gin and Smirnoff vodka.

Data sourced from: New York Times and AdAge.com; additional content by WARC staff