Coke Road Trip Keeps It ‘Real,’ Iconic Ads Focus on Optimism

NEW YORK The Coca-Cola Co. this week breaks the first of nine new Coke Classic spots in the “Make it Real” campaign, featuring four college-age guys who “get up off the couch” to film a documentary about a road trip, sources said. Produced by WPP’s Berlin Cameron/Red Cell, the campaign continues the strategy of telling stories about young adults working toward their dreams. Meanwhile, Coke is still considering ideas from multiple agencies for its global iconic campaign, due in the summer. About six spots will center around the theme of optimism, per sources. One finalist features hip-hop star Nas, who will play up a global unity message. Negotiations are also under way to use songs by the White Stripes and Stevie Wonder, although they are not expected to appear in ads. Coke spent about $190 million in U.S. media on Coke Classic in 2004, per Nielsen Monitor-Plus.

UM Strategy Chief Mark Stewart Accepts Offer From OMD

LOS ANGELES Mark Stewart, 45, chief strategic officer at IPG’s Universal McCann, has accepted an offer to join Omnicom’s OMD as managing director of its Eastern region, said OMD North American CEO Page Thompson. Stewart, one of the architects of Frontier Media, the new IPG unit that won the $80 million Church & Dwight business last month, follows by less than a month the departure of UM worldwide CEO Robin Kent. When Stewart arrives at OMD next month, current Eastern leader Jill Botway will move over to be managing director of OMD’s strategic business unit, which includes direct response, newspaper, and Hispanic media marketing.

IPG Deals With Bondholders, Preps for Analysts’ Call

NEW YORK Interpublic Group executives spent most of last week renegotiating the terms of its deals with bondholders to compensate for its late reporting of 2004 financial results, even while they prepared for their first conference call with analysts since November. The call, scheduled for 8:30 a.m. tomorrow, will give IPG CEO Michael Roth a chance to assert that the company is financially stable, despite acquisition accounting problems that surfaced last month and will likely trigger another restatement. Late last month, Roth delivered a similar message—IPG has access to $1.9 billion in cash, and its debt, at $2.2 billion, is the lowest in three years—to key clients, his agencies and search consultants. IPG declined comment.

$400 Mil. Shifts Within Publicis, Zenith Comes Out Winner

LOS ANGELES Two intra-holding company reassignments have added more than $400 million to Publicis’ ZenithOptimedia Group. Zenith Media in New York, which handles Hewlett-Packard overseas, has been assigned the tech marketer’s $300 million U.S. media buying and planning business, which shifts from sibling Publicis & Hal Riney in New York. And drugmaker Sanofi-Aventis has consolidated its estimated $800 million global billings at Optimedia, following the completion of Sanofi’s acquisition of Aventis. Optimedia, which was the Sanofi agency, added about $80 million in billings; Publicis’ Starcom in Chicago was the Aventis incumbent. Both clients reassigned their business without review.

Ads for iPod Rival Gigabeat Boast About Color Screen

NEW YORK Toshiba will play up the large color screen on its new Gigabeat digital audio player, with a TV and print campaign that launches next week. TV ads by Della Femina Rothschild Jeary and Partners in New York show black-and-white footage of bands with colorful names–such as Blues Traveler and Vendetta Red. When the camera zooms in on the Gigabeat screen, the footage kicks into color. Ads are tagged, “Because music is just better in color.” Spending was not disclosed.

Three Finalists to Pitch for American Century’s $20 Mil. Biz

CHICAGO Three New York shops will make final pitches this week for American Century’s $20 million account, sources said. WPP’s Grey pitches at the client’s Kansas City, Mo., offices on Tuesday, followed by independent Wieden + Kennedy on Wednesday and Omnicom’s TBWA\ Chiat\Day on Thursday, sources said. Incumbent RPA, a Santa Monica, Calif., independent, did not defend. The client could not be reached.