PepsiCo, FCB Agree to Settle Legal Dispute

Foote, Cone & Belding’s settlement with PepsiCo prevents its most experienced beverage executives from working on competitive Coca-Cola brands until June 1.

While the settlement leaves all but 16 FCB employees free to work on Coke brands, it remained unclear when the brands in question will be returned to the Chicago shop. Because of uncertainty caused by Pepsi’s two lawsuits against FCB, Coke extended contracts with Wie den + Kennedy (Powerade) and Ber lin Cameron & Partners (Dasani) through September, sources said.

A Coke representative said the Atlanta-based company had not been formally notified of any settlement between FCB and Pepsi and could not comment at press time.

Pepsi’s lawsuit, filed in Chicago’s Cook County Circuit Court, had sought to keep FCB’s Aquafina veterans away from Dasani for two years. A federal lawsuit from Pepsi’s Quaker Oats Co. sought an injunction preventing FCB from working on Powerade.

The settlement, agreed to by both sides last Wednesday but not yet signed and filed, bars eight FCB executives who worked on Gatorade, five who worked on Tropicana and three veterans of Aquafina from working on Coke’s rival Powerade, Minute Maid and Dasani brands until June 1. Tropicana was not part of Pepsi’s original lawsuit but was thrown in as part of the settlement, as FCB New York takes over on Minute Maid.

“We’re pleased with this and think it achieves our goal of protecting our trade secrets,” a Pepsi rep said.

“I’m delighted that this whole legal mishmash is over and that we can get back to doing what we do best, making ads for clients,” said FCB Worldwide CEO Brendan Ryan. “I’m particularly delighted that my term as a Supreme Court Justice is complete.”