Coke Shops Watch, Wait As Zyman Rumors Fly

Executives at agencies with Coca-Cola business last week anxiously awaited confirmation or denial on word that Coke’s chief marketing officer, Sergio Zyman, will soon be leaving the company for a top marketing post at Microsoft or Nike.
Coke officials said Zyman’s status remained unchanged and that he had not resigned. Zyman himself was said to be traveling on Friday and was not available. Microsoft denied reports that Zyman was coming aboard while Nike declined to comment.
A Zyman exit would likely shake up Coke’s agency roster, now a patchwork of over a dozen shops, and could result in major strategic departures.
Advertising for flagship Coke has disappointed the client of late, despite pedigree talent behind the camera; a recent batch of Diet Coke ads has also mystified executives inside and outside the company. Both sets of spots were from Wieden & Kennedy in Portland, Ore. “The truth is, [Zyman is] bored to death and thinking what else could he do for Coke?” said one source.
Zyman is associated with some of Coke’s best and worst marketing moments–the creation of the “Coke is it” campaign, Diet Coke, Cherry Coke, New Coke and OK Soda.
Among those mentioned as a possible successor is Charles Frenette, now head of Coke’s South African operations.
Zyman has also been widely known to covet the No. 2 post at Coke, a job that has been left vacant while CEO Doug Ivester realigns his management team.