Coke Pulls Plug on Promo Ads

Coca-Cola USA has yanked off the air three of four “pop-top” summer promotional spots created by Leo Burnett, after the client decided they were out of step with the overall brand strategy.

Replacement spots from IPG’s McCann-Erickson break today with two more commercials rolling out this month, a Coke representative confirmed.

Burnett’s ads broke in mid-May and were set to run through July 31, the height of the summer selling season when bottlers depend on the biggest volume surge.

Tagged, “Why not you, why not now?” two of those spots showed young adult consumers winning the prizes offered in the promotion, such as $1 million. Another showed a family winning a Florida vacation, and the fourth featured the chance to win an on-set visit to the taping of a Christina Aguilera video.

Coke confirmed that the only Burnett spot to remain on the air is the one featuring the Latina pop star.

A client representative added that McCann’s pop-top work “builds a stronger connection” to the “Life tastes good” campaign than the Burnett work. In addition, he said, it contains a call to action about the contest, saying that “time is running out” on the summer promotion.

The new work also carries the “Life tastes good” tagline in keeping with the Coke Classic campaign McCann and its Amster Yard unit unveiled in April, sources said.

Sources said former Coke CEO Don Keough, who re mains a top Coke ad viser, encouraged Coke CEO Doug Daft to yank the Burnett ads because the characters were not in keeping with the “aspirational” appeal of brand Coke. “The characters did not properly portray the Coke drinker,” said a source.

The IPG strategy is to show people’s day-to-day experience and where the product creates a common bond, and to emphasize everyday optimism [Adweek, Feb. 26].

Burnett began working on the promo assignment before IPG was tapped to develop an overall brand strategy in December, sources said.

Officials at Burnett and McCann referred calls to the client.