Coke Preps Marketing Changes

NEW YORK–Coca-Cola is poised to consolidate a portion of its internal marketing operations as it prepares for a brand realignment among its agencies, sources said.

The marketing departments of Coke North America (which handles the U.S. and Canada markets) and Coke Corporate (which handles brand strategy for global and new brands) are discussing the merger of some responsibilities that would result in high-level changes, sources said.

“Armageddon’s coming,” said one source. “Coke is days or weeks from a new shake-up.”

Additionally, a major brand re alignment may be under way for the Atlanta-based company, sources said, especially in regard to Sprite. At least three roster shops have been approached about submitting ideas on Sprite, whose estimated $85 million account is handled by Lowe Lintas & Partners [Adweek, Aug. 6].

Coke declined comment on possible executive changes and on questions regarding a brand realignment.

Executives at Coke and Interpublic Group have also been discussing the conflict issues surrounding Gatorade, Tropicana and Aquafina. IPG’s recently acquired Foote, Cone & Belding handles those Pepsi-owned brands. Combined, they represent approximately $170 million in billings.

Executives on both sides are “addressing the issue,” a source said, adding, “Coke looks like a betrayed husband right now.” Another source said, “It is inconceivable that Coke would turn a blind eye to an IPG shop having Gatorade.” Two weeks ago, Coke relaunched its Powerade sports drink in a campaign via Wieden + Kennedy in Portland, Ore.

In December, Coke tapped IPG as creative strategist on Coke Classic, and its agency, McCann-Erickson, created the “Life tastes good” campaign. McCann last week presented new work on the campaign in which “movie stars and classic Hollywood movie creatures are being considered,” a source said. The work has not yet been sold.

New executions are scheduled to break in late September, sources said. Coke declined comment.