Coke Again Delving Outside McCann

NEW YORK The Coca-Cola Co., is soliciting ideas on brand Coke in the U.K. beyond those of its lead agency McCann-Erickson, sources said.

With Coke’s “Real” campaign set to bow in North America on Monday, the Atlanta client has been seeing concepts from London creative boutique Mother, sources said. Mother is already on the Coke roster, handling creative for Lilt and other brands, but this is the first time it would be working on Coke Classic.

It is the second time in less than a year that Coca-Cola has reached beyond McCann for ideas on Coke Classic. McCann parent, the Inteprublic Group, was named creative partner worldwide on Coke Classic in December 2000. McCann London is also presenting ideas, a source said. Coke briefed the two shops just before Christmas on the new “real” strategy, the source said, adding, “McCann is going to be fighting for its life on Coke in every market.”

The New York office of McCann produced most of the “Life tastes good” campaign, which broke in April 2001, but the line was pulled on Sept. 11 after terrorist attacks in New York, Washington, D.C., and Pennsylvania.

In the months following, McCann struggled to sell through ideas on Coke Classic, and the company reached out to another New York shop, WPP’s Berlin Cameron/Red Cell. That agency’s ideas for a new campaign and tagline, “Real,” tested better than those of McCann in the summer of 2002, sources said.

By autumn, Berlin Cameron was lead creative agency on “Real,” with McCann on the sidelines. On Thursday, Coke gave a preview to the press, analysts and bottlers on the new creative work from Berlin Cameron, and it is being well received.

Sources said, however, that Red Cell’s London office is not contributing ideas on Coke Classic in the U.K. It could not immediately be determined if agencies besides Mother and McCann were presenting ideas on the flagship brand. Mother executives could not immediately be reached for comment, nor could a Coke representative in London. A client representative in Atlanta declined comment.