Coke Up to Old Tricks

Interpublic Group may not make what sources said is a September target date to break a new Coke Classic campaign because the client has asked it to incorporate ideas from WPP Group’s Berlin Cam eron/Red Cell.

“We’ve stated since April that we’re not going to put a time line against a new advertising campaign,” a Coke representative said.

Although IPG was named “creative partner” on Coke Classic in December 2000 and taps several of its ad agencies for Coke Classic work, Berlin Cameron presented storyboards and scripts on the brand within the last two months, sources said.

In a recent statement, Steve Heyer, president and COO of Coca-Cola Ventures, said Berlin Cameron “developed insights into the youth market that we think may be relevant to the advertising for Coke Classic.”

IPG declined comment. Berlin Cameron was unavailable.

Sources said the shop has presented a “youth-oriented, celebrity-laden campaign” and that McCann-Erickson and other IPG shops have been asked to “cherry pick” from those ideas. Coke has “now chosen to commit to” the Berlin Cameron approach, according to one source.

McCann has been under pressure to hire a top creative on Classic, sources said. And, during the past nine months, WPP has chipped away at IPG’s hold on Coca-Cola with its Ogilvy & Mather winning Sprite from IPG’s Lowe. WPP’s purchase late last year of Berlin Cameron added Dasani, Mello Yello and Minute Maid sodas.

Not too long ago IPG appeared to have a solid grasp on Coke. But, as is typical of Coke, the client is not hesitating to reach beyond its core agency partners for fresh ideas.