Agencies Await Word On Status of Senior-Ranking Ad Exec
NEW YORK--Ian Rowden, a senior Coca-Cola advertising executive, has taken a "leave of absence" from his duties at the soft drink giant and is returning to his native Australia "to tend to family responsibilities," sources said.
The story circulating around Coke's agencies however, is that Rowden is not on leave but has been dismissed by chief marketing officer Stephen Jones.
Rowden's most recent title was vp of Coca-Cola's marketing division, consumer communications. Previously he was director of worldwide advertising. He was considered one of the architects behind Coke Classic's current "Coca-Cola Enjoy" campaign.
"We cannot comment on specific personnel situations," Coke representative Scott Jacobsen said when asked about Rowden's status. "He is still employed by the company at this time." Jacobsen would only confirm Rowden's current title and said he did not know if Rowden was on Coke's Atlanta premises or traveling. Calls to Coke seeking Rowden were transferred to the voice mailbox of Gina Whitehead, his assistant. She did not return calls. Jones could not be reached for comment.
Sources said Coke recently assigned lead creative duties for its flagship brand to Cliff Freeman and Partners, New York, [Adweek, Web site, April 18, 2000] after meetings between some roster agencies and Coke marketing representatives in Atlanta in mid-April.
The shops had been asked to present new ideas on the "Enjoy" campaign, created by McCann-Erickson, Leo Burnett and the recently disbanded Edge Creative, Santa Monica, Calif., sources said. D'Arcy Masius Benton & Bowles had also submitted ideas, sources said.
Neither agency nor client officials would comment on those meetings nor would they confirm a change in duties among roster shops.
Rowden began his career at Coke in 1980 in its Australian subsidiary. He also played professional soccer for APIA Leichhardt, an Australian team.
In 1990, he left Coke to work for then DDB Needham Worldwide as director and managing partner of the Sydney office. Sources described him as "gregarious" and his relationship with Jones as "very tense."