Lion and BMF sever ties, ending an iconic 19-year partnership

Ad agency BMF has cut its final remaining ties with one of Australia’s largest brewers, Lion, ending a near 20 year relationship which helped redefine beer advertising in Australia, Mumbrella can reveal.


BMF added star power to Tap King advertising for Lion

Lion and BMF agreed mutually to part ways, with Lion rationalising its agency roster under new marketing leadership.

The relationship between BMF and Lion had become increasingly strained in the wake of Lion handing the flagship XXXX Gold account to Host earlier this year, with BMF managing director, Stephen McArdle, saying the agency and brewer held different views on what worked.

BMF had been left holding the James Squire and Five Seeds Cider brands and the ‘Beer The Beautiful Truth’ campaign, though little work was done on any of the brands.

Mumbrella understands that staff at BMF were informed of the move this morning and the announcement was greeted with cheers.

Lion beer and cider Australia marketing director, Tanya Marler, said it would consolidate its larger beer brands with Ogilvy and Host, while launching the search for a smaller boutique agency to work with its craft brands.

Marler said the move was “based on the needs of a more diversified portfolio”.

“We have worked with the BMF team for over 19 years and are immensely proud of the campaigns we have delivered over this time across our leading brands, such as Tooheys, XXXX GOLD, James Squire and 5 Seeds, as well as our category initiative, ‘Beer the Beautiful Truth’.

We wish the BMF team every success in the future and will always hold our partnership in high regard.

BMF managing director, Stephen McArdle, said there had been a diversion of views.

“We’re very proud of what we’ve achieved with Lion over the years, with work that has defined careers and categories along the way,” McArdle said.

“In more recent times, our view of what makes world-class work has started to differ and the time felt right for us both to move on. We wish Lion every success in the future.”

BMF’s work for Lion helped to reignite the beer category and the agency kicked off the relationship in 1997 with an ad for Amber Mid Strength Ale under the line ‘The Beer That Loves You Back’.

Over almost 20 years the agency worked on XXXX, creating one of the longest-running beer campaigns in Australian history with XXXX Island, as well as James Squire, Five Seeds, Tap King and Tooheys.

However, the agency really captured the attention of consumers with its work for Toohey’s Extra Dry – the ad featuring a tongue escaping from the mouth of a sleeping man and setting out on a quest to find an Extra Dry beer.

The ad became an instant classic and became a benchmark for the agency, which followed it up with a series of curious and quirky ads including ‘Harvested’.

The series continued with The Beer for the Nocturnal Migration:

Earlier this year that agency produced its latest work for Five Seeds:

Lion’s dalliance with home kegs got a push with an ad featuring singer Lionel Ritchie:

BMF and Lion have been approached for comment.


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