R/GA Had Pepsi NA Digital Locked Up, Until…

By Matt Van Hoven 

Pepsi’s latest campaign work has garnered a lot of attention, thanks mostly to across-the-board executions everywhere from Times Square on New Year’s Eve to the inauguration and countless billboards, commercials, and even a few Web sites. And though the account rests in TBWA/Chiat/Day’s hands, the digital work belonged to R/GA for about three months &#151 that is, until Chiat got upset about it and called “AOR” on Pepsi. Now they’ve got a boatload of work that may have been better suited for the guys that brought you Alien, cuz being steeped in digital probably means you know what you’re doing.

This story is one of classic general AOR cries foul, entitlement, “that’s mine” like so many two year-olds. It went down something like this…

Eight agencies were asked to pitch for a digital agency, brand Pepsi (North America). In late November, R/GA was told they’d won the business &#151 meaning defender Tribal DDB was S.O.L.

Immediately following the win, R/GA got down to their first piece of business, a Web site in support of Chiat’s work &#151 refresheverything.com &#151 a home for Pepsi’s ever-changing promotions. R/GA had only three weeks to build it, and then it was on to the “Dear Mr. President” inauguration work &#151 which they pitched after winning the business. The little R/GAers were but half way through that piece when they got word to that Chiat would be the DAOR. Um, what?

Something shady hath gone down. By the time R/GA found out Chiat had yanked the business, there hadn’t been enough time for Pepsi to get a good feel for the metrics on refresheverything.com (note: we’re told the metrics for the inauguration were in the hundreds of thousands). And let’s not discount the fact that the digiheads were half way through the next project when this all goes down. It wasn’t based on business, y’all.

Regardless, R/GA hasn’t uttered a word about the thing &#151 but we’re told politics put a cork in the digital agency’s flow. Well, not for Chiat. Pepsi probably isn’t too happy about the situation either, since they were apparently slapped with the order out of the blue. Just another case of agencies picking at one another &#151 rather than admitting what they do and letting shit settle where it should.

More: “BBDO Lost Pepsi to TBWA/Chiat/Day LA