Sprite to Solicit Creative Ideas

Coca-Cola is weeks away from holding discussions about its Sprite brand with some of its roster agencies, sources said last week.

The $85 million account is handled by Lowe Lintas & Partners in New York.

Coke execs have indicated Sprite would be “coming up for discussion” before Labor Day, said one source. “I could never imagine new advertising or a new agency before the end of the year, but it will be pitched between now and then.”

“The briefing of agencies beyond Lowe is imminent,” said another source. “The [Lowe Lintas] ads are off the air, and it’s only being supported by promotional activity.”

Coke, however, denied that it had approached other roster shops. A client representative at Coke’s Atlanta headquarters said Sprite’s marketing team has “no plans to look outside our current Sprite roster.” Lowe Lintas handles brand and general-market advertising on the Sprite brand. Burrell Communications in Chicago handles African American efforts, and Lapiz, a division of Leo Burnett in Chicago, does Hispanic advertising.

“For 2002, our plan is to continue to tap into those agencies for Sprite creative,” the rep said. She added that Sprite’s 2002 marketing plan was near completion and that Lowe Lintas would soon be briefed on the plan, but could not provide a date.

Sources, however, said the client is looking at Coke shops that work on various brands. Other roster agencies include Burnett, D’Arcy Masius Benton & Bowles, Wie den + Ken nedy, Cliff Free man and Partners, McCann-Erick son and Berlin Cameron & Partners.

On Friday, Lowe Lintas’ U.S. CEO, Paul Hammersley, dismissed talk of Coke reaching out to other roster shops on Sprite. “We continue to have a very strong and successful relationship with Coca-Cola on Sprite,” he said.

In February, Lowe Lintas broke a series of spots under the 7-year-old “Obey your thirst” tagline. The work featured full-face photography of teens and young adults rapping about dates gone bad, aspirations and past mistakes. Current TV spots, also by Lowe Lintas, focus on the new Web site Sprite.com.