Coke’s Heyer to Step Down

NEW YORK Coca-Cola on Wednesday said president and chief operating officer Steven Heyer will leave the company.

In a statement, Coke said he will depart “by mutual agreement … after an orderly transition period” over the next few months.

The move had been widely anticipated in the wake of Coke’s decision in May to name E. Neville Isdell to succeed retiring company chairman and chief executive officer Doug Daft. Many observers had viewed Heyer as Daft’s successor. [Adweek Online, May 4].

In the statement, Isdell said: “In discussions over the past week, Steve [Heyer] and I have looked at how he could best realize his personal goals given my election as chairman and CEO of this company. We agreed that Steve could best realize his aspirations by pursuing opportunities outside of the company.”

Heyer is regarded as a key architect of Coke’s recent marketing strategies.

Coke spent nearly $325 million on domestic ads last year, per Nielsen Monitor-Plus. Global ad spending is estimated in the $600 million range.

Client ad agencies include Publicis Groupe’s Starcom MediaVest; WPP Group’s Berlin Cameron/Red Cell and Ogilvy & Mather; Interpublic Group’s McCann Erickson and its siblings Foote Cone & Belding, The Martin Agency and Momentum; and independent shops Mother and Wieden + Kennedy.

—Adweek staff report