Marketing Reorg at Coca-Cola

NEW YORK Coca-Cola said it is reorganizing its marketing department to report to newly appointed COO Muhtar Kent.

As such, Mary Minnick, who is leaving at the end of next month to pursue opportunities in the U.K., will not be replaced. Minnick had been head of the company’s marketing, strategy and innovation division, which was the umbrella for global marketing across all brands.

Minnick’s departure is believed to be linked to Kent’s elevation to COO by CEO Neville Isdell. Kent’s promotion puts him in more direct line for the CEO title. Many considered Minnick, a 23-year Coke veteran, to be a serious contender for that crown.

In a memo to Coke employees today, Isdell said all marketing, strategy and innovation directors will report to Kent, adding, “We believe that the processes, systems and routines established will ensure an effective connection between R&D and marketing.”

Effective March 1, Marc Mathieu, who was head of Coke’s global core brands, adds marketing responsibilities for non-carbonated products.

Most others in the marketing team will now report to Mathieu instead of Minnick, except for the R&D and the strategy groups. Those departments, headed by Danny Strickland and John Murphy, respectively, have each reported directly to Isdell. Scott Uzell, vp, global new business models, will report to Mark Greatrex, svp, marketing communications and insights.

Minnick and her team in late 2005 moved the brand advertising for flagship Coke Classic from WPP Group’s Berlin Cameron United to independent Wieden + Kennedy. That agency developed the marketing platform, “The Coke side of life.”

Late last year, W+K in Portland, Ore., was awarded Diet Coke duties from Interpublic Group’s DraftFCB. (W+K had handled Coke’s Powerade for several years.)

“It’s too early to tell what impact if any, the changes will have on any of our partners,” said a Coke representative when asked about potential changes to the agency roster.