Diet Coke Is a Jump Ball for IPG

NEW YORK — Coca-Cola is reaching beyond Lowe as it searches for the next big idea for Diet Coke, sources said.

Lowe and three sister Interpublic Group shops will be briefed this week by Coke executives, including Esther Lee, the new chief creative officer for North America, said sources. The meeting will take place in New York.

The other IPG shops are Foote, Cone & Belding in Chicago, The Martin Agency in Richmond, Va., and Gotham in New York, according to sources. The shops either declined comment or could not be reached; Coke declined comment.

It is not unusual for Coke to seek ideas on a particular brand from multiple shops. It happened recently on Coke Classic, resulting in the addition of WPP Group’s Berlin Cameron/Red Cell as a creative resource alongside IPG’s McCann-Erickson.

Sources said it is unclear whether the intent of this latest exercise is to move the entire account or to add another source of ideas for the brand’s next campaign.

FCB’s presence in the huddle is telling, sources said. They noted that the agency has a viable international network should the client chose to shift the $75 million global business.

The Diet Coke review comes as IPG attempts to grapple with Coke advertising issues in a more systematic and organized way, said sources. The holding company is said to be assembling a committee of executives from different agencies that work on Coke brands to better respond to the client’s needs.

Just one year into its second tenure on Diet Coke, Lowe is under pressure to come up with a successor to its “Do what feels good” campaign.

The current effort, which features attractive thirtysomething men and women smiling and canoodling to upbeat music, broke during the Winter Olympics in February. It turned promotional in recent months to support a Blockbuster contest offering a walk-on role in a movie and a drawing to win a trip to New York’s Improv, which is celebrating its 40th anniversary.

Lowe landed the worldwide account last fall, when Coke realigned all its brands among IPG and WPP shops. Previously, it handled the brand from 1993 until 1998.