Coke Loss Leads to 12 Percent Cut at Wieden in Portland

Wieden + Kennedy on Friday said it had parted ways with Coca-Cola, which resulted in layoffs at its Portland flagship office.

Wieden did not disclose numbers, but sources said 30 of Portland’s 260 staffers, or 12 percent, were let go as it braces for the loss of its $60 million Powerade and $25 million Diet Coke accounts.

In a statement, Dan Wieden said, “This is a very close-knit organization and the only consolation is that these people released today are some of the brightest in the industry and should have no trouble being snatched up.”

Sources said those brands are headed to Interpublic Group of Cos. shops [Adweek Online, Sept. 27]. IPG agencies are also expected to pick up Minute Maid, formerly at Leo Burnett.

WPP’s Ogilvy & Mather is scheduled to be briefed later this week on Sprite (formerly at Lowe Lintas & Partners) and Fanta. Ogilvy senior partner, ecd Chris Wall will head up the Sprite team, and creative director, North America David Fowler will supervise creative on Fanta, sources said.

Dasani, Mello Yello and Mr. Pibb are expected to remain at independent New York shop Berlin Cameron & Partners. Coke was to have officially announced the realignment last week. Reasons for the delay were unclear. A Coke rep declined comment.

Additionally, Coke is readying a sweeping 10-point plan that calls for cutting $100 million in expenses from its corporate and North American division and moving away from mass advertising campaigns.

The changes were revealed in a report issued last week by Credit Suisse First Boston beverage analyst Andrew Conway.

The document was based on a discussion with Coca-Cola Ventures president Steve Heyer. “Mr. Heyer has decided that this is possible through more localized marketing and less reliance on mass campaigns . . . he would diminish their importance going forward,” wrote Conway, who maintained his “hold” recommendation on Coke’s shares.