Coke Agencies Learn Their Fate

After months of negotiations and weeks of uncertainty among its ad agencies, Coca-Cola has finally revealed its new global agency roster, naming IPG and WPP “worldwide partners.”

The long-awaited brand realignment involves 24 brands, 12 agencies and the reallocation of nearly $800 million in worldwide billings.

IPG, as expected, emerged as the big winner. Among its most notable gains: the consolidated Coke Classic business around the world at McCann-Erickson (a gain of some $150 million in billings); the return of Diet Coke to Lowe Lintas & Partners; and the addition of the Coke/Nestle alliance known as Beverage Partners Worldwide (composed of two assignments worth about $150 million).

IPG’s Foote, Cone & Belding recoups more than two-thirds of the Pepsi/Quaker billings it recently lost to Omnicom due to a conflict with Coke at IPG. Now, it takes on about $250 million in Coke business for such brands as Powerade in the U.S., the Aquarius sports drink in Europe, Minute Maid, Simply Orange, Hi-C, Fruitopia and Dasani. IPG’s Campbell Mithun in Minneapolis gets Fresca and Citra.

That brings IPG’s additional Coke billings from this realignment to $550 million-plus.

The move also involves the appointment of WPP as a second global creative partner for the first time. WPP’s Ogilvy & Mather adds an estimated $200 million in business as it picks up Sprite, Diet Sprite and Fanta.

“We’re thrilled to be working with such highly regarded global brands as Sprite and Fanta,” said Ogilvy chief executive Shelly Lazarus. “It’s the most wonderful kind of win because it came about from the work we do for our clients in general.”

An internal memo issued earlier this week to Coke marketing executives around the world from chief marketing officer Steve Jones said IPG and WPP had been selected because of their “worldwide strategic capability, strong infrastructure” and “global reach in 200 countries.”

Details of Coke’s new agency roster had been expected for weeks [Adweek Online, Sept. 27], but were still in flux up until late Friday. As first communicated to reporters on Friday, the realignment showed that Berlin Cameron & Partners and Wieden + Kennedy, both independent shops, had been eliminated from the roster.

Wieden’s earlier reported loss of its Diet Coke, Barq’s and Powerade business stands, but as of Friday it had been awarded KMX, Coke’s high-energy drink.

Berlin Cameron, which loses its Dasani water brand, was retained on Mello Yello and Mr. Pibb, which-according to the earlier memo-were originally headed for IPG’s The Martin Agency. In the end, Berlin Cameron picked up Minute Maid sodas, and there was no mention of Martin, based in Richmond, Va., on the roster.

“There was a change [in several assignments],” one source said.

A Coke representative would not comment on the last-minute switch. But sources said that 11th-hour agency pleas restored the status of Berlin Cameron and Wieden to the roster.

Agencies no longer on the Coke roster as a result of the moves include D’Arcy Masius Benton & Bowles and Cliff Freeman and Partners.

In other moves: Bcom3’s Leo Burnett loses its Minute Maid and Fanta business, but it will eventually handle Coke’s Disney-branded beverages, still in development.

Unaffected by the changes are Dentsu, which will continue work on several brands in Japan, and Publicis, which will retain its duties for Coke Light in Europe.

Ogilvy’s Lazarus said the conflicts that led to FCB’s loss of its Pepsi business last month are not an issue at WPP, whose Young & Rubicam handles 7Up and Dr Pepper (owned by Cadbury Schweppes). J. Walter Thompson handles Uni lever/Pepsi’s Lipton Brisk.

“It’s not the same level as the Coke-Pepsi thing,” Lazarus said. Both Y&R and JWT declined to comment.