David Wheldon stunned Coca-Cola this week by resigning from his new
position as director of marketing greater Europe to become the president
of BBDO Europe, the network that handles the arch-rival Pepsi brand.
Coke had announced Wheldon’s role, which was in itself a surprise, two
weeks ago. He was to succeed Pat Garner, who is moving to take up a
senior role in the Philippines.
Previously, Wheldon had been the company’s first worldwide director of
advertising, reporting to Sergio Zyman, the chief marketing officer of
It had been rumoured for some time that Wheldon favoured a return to
Europe from the US. However, the Coke job, despite its title, was based
A Coca-Cola spokeswoman said: ‘I can confirm that he has resigned.’
Wheldon’s new role means that he will join the BBDO worldwide board,
reporting to Jean-Michel Goudard, the worldwide president. He will take
bottom-line responsibility for 32 countries in Europe, the Middle East
and Africa, in addition to multi-national client responsibilities in a
portfolio that includes Apple, CPC, Henkel, Mars and Wella, as well as
Goudard, who has tried to hire Wheldon before, said that ‘for a decent
period of time for ethical reasons’ Wheldon would not work on Pepsi.
He added: ‘I am particularly interested in his experience in global
branding as both a client and agency man.’
Goudard also confirmed that BBDO’s European headquarters will move from
Paris to London, and that Wheldon’s appointment is effective from
Wheldon, who could not be reached in Atlanta before Campaign went to
press, joined Coca-Cola in September 1993 from Lowe Howard-Spink, where
he had been managing director.
During his time at Coke working for Zyman, Wheldon was responsible for
developing relationships with some 30 agencies worldwide, as the soft-
drinks giant moved away from previous network arrangements with the
Interpublic Group’s agencies.
Before Lowes, Wheldon was deputy managing director at WCRS and an
account director at Saatchi and Saatchi. Originally he was a teacher,
but said he gave up that career when he discovered how much people in
the advertising industry earned.
His appointment surprised staff at Abbott Mead Vickers BBDO, but it will
have little management impact because the Omnicom-owned BBDO has only a
minority stake in the London agency.
Meanwhile, Coke will now have to fill what was to have been Wheldon’s
new position. His former post, as global head of advertising, has now
passed to the former vice-president of Coca-Cola China, Ian Rowden.