McCann Back in the Saddle on Coke Classic

Agency Has Been Pitching Ideas for Lead Task Since Last Year
NEW YORK–McCann-Erickson is in production on general-market ads for Coke Classic that are expected to air in the U.S. later this year. The spots will mark the agency’s first image work for the brand here in nearly a decade.
McCann, in one of advertising’s most stunning chapters, lost lead duties on Coca-Cola’s flagship brand to Creative Artists Agency (now spun off as Edge Creative, in Santa Monica, Calif.) in a much ballyhooed 1993 coup by its then-chief, Mike Ovitz. McCann has been fighting to regain control of the prized account ever since.
McCann’s work will carry forward Coke’s new marketing tack that emphasizes what is inside its trademarked bottle. The overall campaign, for which Edge is also producing ads, features more consumers interacting with Coke, whose sales have flattened this year. As part of the new strategy, the company will redesign its packages and replace its ubiquitous “Always” tag-line with the word, “Enjoy” [Brandweek, Sept. 27].
The McCann ads, currently in production at Digital Domain, which is partially owned by Titanic director James Cameron, make heavy use of special effects. One shows the stars in a night sky coalescing into a mouth that swallows a “tidal wave” of Coke, with ice the size of meteors. A child looks up at the sky as the action unfolds.
The multi-sensory spot relies on audio-visual clues to bring it to life. Children of different nationalities will also appear; one, featuring an Asian youth, will target the 15-and-under market.
Coke has asked a handful of shops–including Leo Burnett–to produce work for the campaign and expects to choose additional executions within the coming weeks.
McCann, according to sources, has been pitching creative ideas on the U.S. business since the end of last year, but has yet to get a green light to produce them. McCann has created work internationally for Coke Classic but not in the U.S., save for promotional ads tied to sports-marketing efforts, such as the Olympic Games.