It looks like there has never been a better time to be on
Coca-Cola’s ad agency roster. The global drink giant’s in-house agency,
Edge Creative, has just announced that it is closing its doors, leaving
up to pounds 100 million worth of business on the loose (Campaign, last
Any one of Coca-Cola’s retained agencies - including McCann-Erickson,
Leo Burnett, Publicis, D’Arcy, Wieden & Kennedy, Bartle Bogle Hegarty,
Leagas Delaney, Mother, Euro RSCG Wnek Gosper or Doner Cardwell Hawkins
- could be in for a hefty slice of the action.
But calls to some of these roster agencies quickly reveals a growing
lack of patience with Coca-Cola as it keeps its agencies in the dark
about its plans, leaving some to conclude it has little idea itself what
the future will hold.
’The local client in London doesn’t know much and Atlanta isn’t much
better,’ a source at one of Coca-Cola’s retained agencies says. ’London
didn’t even know that the story about the Edge was appearing. Coca-Cola
has been flitting between a local and global policy for some time and is
still awarding its business both ways.’
Some agencies are guessing that the decision about future agency
appointments will come down to the relationship that individual
Coca-Cola marketers have with their agencies rather than any formal
This would make a welcome change for agencies that are used to pitching
for individual assignments. The ’enjoy’ campaign was briefed to eight
different agencies worldwide before it was finally awarded to Burnetts
in Chicago and the Edge.
Coca-Cola’s method has always been to select the best from several
agency presentations with the one consolation that the agencies get paid
regardless of whether their work is eventually used.
The ’enjoy’ campaign was designed specifically to be adaptable in local
markets. The ads, which broke at the beginning of the year, also marked
the comeback of Coca-Cola’s trademark glass bottle, which is now being
reintroduced to supermarket shelves in the US.
One of the TV spots features a woman leaving a train while she thinks
about the good times she’s had with friends drinking Coca-Cola. Other
executions associate the soft drink experience with waterfalls, kissing
and tasting a snowflake.
Despite imposing ’enjoy’ around the world, Coca-Cola took the decision
some time ago to give its local offices more autonomy. In doing so, it
went against the trend of international FMCG marketers who are
increasingly shifting their advertising budgets towards global
’The organisation wasn’t working from a centralised standpoint,’ an
agency chief says. ’It meant that Coca-Cola was being very slow to react
from Atlanta to some of its public relations issues such as the
contamination crisis in Europe.’
The shift rendered the Edge pretty much surplus to requirements as its
launch was intended to spearhead a more global approach to
No-one is swallowing Coca-Cola’s story that the Edge’s demise was solely
because the agency principals themselves wanted to move on.
Shelly Hochron, Len Fink and Jack Harrower, the former Creative Artists
Agency executives, set up the Edge in 1995 to handle ’Always
The change in strategy was the idea of Charles Frenette, the company’s
former global marketing chief, and one that is being endorsed by
Coca-Cola’s new chief executive, Douglas Daft.